One of the most frequently asked questions we get at The Balance Center at Decatur ENT Associates is, “Why physical therapy for the ‘inner ear’?” The “inner ear” or the “Vestibular System” (which is the medical name for the inner ear) is responsible for maintaining our body’s balance along with our visual system, muscles, joints, reflexes and nervous system. When our Vestibular System is “over stimulated,” it can cause the symptoms of vertigo or certain forms of dizziness.
There are many causes of dizziness and imbalance. Many people have heard of “Positional Vertigo (BPPV)” or the “crystals” in the inner ear. They automatically assume that if they are dizzy, that “their crystals are out of place.” BPPV (Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo) is in fact only one of the varieties of diagnoses our physicians evaluate and treat. That is why it is so very important to have a Vestibular specialist evaluate and treat your symptoms.
Imbalance and falls can also have multiple causes. Inner ear is usually only one factor in imbalance and falls. We see many patients with a diagnosis of “Multi-factorial Balance Disorder.” That’s were physical therapy can help.
Your Vestibular physical therapist will evaluate your balance and walking. You will receive counseling on how to prevent falls and decrease your risk for future falls. You will also be instructed in exercises and a walking program to begin at home and are given “balance specific” exercises to improve your overall balance. People often ask how long it will take to show improvement in their balance. If a patient is diligent with their home exercise and walking program, usually improvement can be seen in approximately 4-8 weeks.
Remember, every person is different. That is why it is so important to be evaluated and treated by physicians, audiologists and physical therapists that have specialty training in diagnosing and treating these problems.
Kathy Sulcer, P.T.
The Balance Center
Decatur ENT Associates