stand up paddle with vestibular disorder

Many people are not that familiar with the human vestibular system.

Perhaps you have heard of it but aren’t fully sure what it is or how it works? 

Many of us have no idea what the vestibular system really is or does, even though we rely on it heavily. Well, it turns out that human beings are able to perceive head movement, stay upright, and see clearly while we are moving solely because of our vestibular system! In other words, our balance is controlled by this important part of the human anatomy.

About a third of the population struggles with problems in their vestibular systems at some point in their lives, and some don’t realize that there is a treatment for the symptoms they’re experiencing. 

For many people who suffer, the best method to treat a vestibular disorder is through vestibular rehabilitation therapy. This type of therapy is a research-based approach that involves the use of individualized techniques to help the brain compensate for the problems in the vestibular system. 

Find out more about causes, symptoms, treatments of vestibular disorders in this edition of the Broadview blog!

What Is Vestibular Rehabilitation Therapy?

Vestibular Rehabilitation Therapy (VRT) is a comprehensive form of therapy that serves the purpose of relieving both the primary and secondary problems that are caused by vestibular disorders. 

This form of therapy uses a variety of exercises to reduce vertigo and dizziness, which are common symptoms of vestibular dysfunction. The goal of these specialized exercises is to promote compensation for the problems caused by the vestibular system disorder. For many people, this compensation occurs naturally after a period of time.

woman with vestibular disorderHowever, people who continue to struggle with performing day-to day activities due to ongoing balance issues and other symptoms related to vestibular disorders can benefit from vestibular rehabilitation therapy to promote compensationAn exercise program is designed to address the issues of each person’s specific problems, but before this can happen, an extensive clinical examination must be performed to identify the type of vestibular disorder the patient has. 

Based on the type of vestibular disorder, a customized treatment plan is depicted. 

Causes and Symptoms of Vestibular Disorders

Vestibular issues can arise from a variety of problems, which include but are not limited to inner ear disorders and infections, head trauma, and other brain-related problems.

Some common symptoms of vestibular disorders are:

  • Dizziness or vertigo 
  • Motion sensitivity
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Poor concentration
  • Decreased activity and motion restriction
  • Depression and anxiety

The degree of discomfort varies for each person.

People with a severe type of vestibular disorder, such as Meniere’s disease and labyrinthitis, can experience a higher degree of pain and irritation.    

Types of Vestibular Disorders 

3d rendering of brainThe vestibular system includes the parts of the inner ear and brain that operate the sensory information involved with controlling balance and eye movement.

The result of an injury or disease to these areas is a vestibular disorder. There are many types of vestibular disorders, with the most common being Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV), labyrinthitis, Vestibular neuritis, Meniere’s disease, and Perilymphatic fistula (PLF). 

Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo is the most common cause of positional vertigo, which gives the person a sudden feeling of swaying and spinning. This type of disorder occurs when a miniature calcium crystal in one part of your ear moves to another.

Labyrinthitis is an inner ear infection that takes place in a structure called the labyrinth. This disorder affects not only a person’s balance but also causes ear pain, pressure, nausea and high fever.  Labyrinthitus can be well treated with an antibiotic if it’s a bacterial infection, or through steroids that bring the inflammation down. 

Vestibular neuritis is a viral infection that transpires somewhere else in the body, not in the vestibular system. However, these infections can affect the nerves that send out sound and balance information to your brain. 

People who suffer from Meniere’s disease undergo sudden attacks of vertigo and tinnitus, which is a constant ringing or buzzing noise in the ear. This disease is caused by too much fluid in the inner ear. 

man on bike with vestibular disorderFinally, Perilymphatic fistula (PLF) is a defect between the middle ear and the fluid-filled inner ear. This vestibular disorder causes hearing loss and keeps the person affected in a constant state of dizziness. 

Vestibular Rehabilitation Therapy in Ottawa

Have you been experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned above?

If you think you may have a vestibular disorder, it’s best to get it checked out. Our specialists at Broadview Spine and Health will conduct a thorough assessment to determine the causes and contributing factors of your condition. 

Once your assessment is completed we will offer you several treatment plans that will all  be designed based on your specific needs. 

Book an appointment with us today and let us get you on the road to recovery.