Does your world spin when you turn your head a certain way? Do you have trouble keeping your balance? Do you find yourself bumping into things constantly? You could have a vestibular issue!
For you to maintain your balance, three systems in your body need to work together:
- The visual system (your eyesight)
- Your somatosensory system (senses where your limbs are and interpret how they are moving, for example, walking forward)
- Your peripheral vestibular system (your inner ear)
If one of these systems is not working properly, you will have trouble maintaining your balance and equilibrium.
The vestibular system responds to emerging stimulus from our environment almost instantaneously to prevent us from losing our equilibrium and balance. Often people with a vestibular issue will feel the world spinning around them or they will feel frequently off balance.
In order for us, as humans, to maintain balance we need to use three interconnected systems: the visual system, the somatosensory system, and the peripheral vestibular system.
Visual system uses eyesight to determine what the body should expect and reacts accordingly. For example, if your visual system sees your surroundings moving past you, it sends a message to your brain that you are moving forward.
Somatosensory system senses where our limbs are in space and reacts accordingly. If the somatosensory system interprets that the feet are taking steps and the arms are pumping, it will send a message to the brain that you are moving forwards.
Peripheral vestibular system is within our inner ear and it interprets head motion and head position in space. If the peripheral system detects that the head is moving forward, it will send a message to the brain that you are moving forward.
These three systems work together seamlessly to keep us balanced- if just one of these systems is not working appropriately a deficit can emerge in maintaining balance and equilibrium. For example, if while you are walking you close your eyes it will be significantly more difficult to keep your balance because you have removed one of your systems. Now imagine walking, with your eyes closed, while turning your head back and forth- thus eliminating the visual system and bombarding the vestibular system- leaving you only with your somatosensory feedback. In this scenario it is much more difficult to walk a straight line and keep your balance.
What to expect at an assessment:
Our therapists are trained in comprehensively assessing the vestibular system and determining if there are any faults present. As assessment will start with a comprehensive history. Our therapists will ask you numerous questions to try to determine the root cause of the problem. Our therapists will then take you through a number of tests- some for the visual system, some for the somatosensory system, and some for the peripheral vestibular system. We will also ensure your dizziness is not being caused by something more insidious and that it is a true vestibular problem. During an assessment you can expect to get dizzy- we need to provoke symptoms in order to treat them- but it is all in the best interest of you, the patient. For this reason, we may often suggest having a friend or family member drive you to the clinic. Following the assessment our therapists will educate you on the findings, and set you on the best course of action- often including at home vestibular exercises. Sometimes (like in the case of benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) we can fix the problem in just one appointment, but often we will need several follow ups to solve the issue. We look forward to helping you find your balance!
Get treated like the pros!
At Advantage Sport Medicine our team of specialists offer advanced physiotherapy treatments for Vestibular Rehabilitation. Please call (780) 229-0174 to book your appointment. Find us on Facebook and Instagram!