Common Disorders Treated at FYZICAL Therapy and Balance Centers
Classic Vestibular Disorders: The most common cause of dizziness is a vestibular injury to the inner ear. What is commonly misunderstood is the fact that the injury goes away with the disease that caused the dysfunction. While the inflammation and possibly the virus goes away, the inner ear is still dysfunctional and there is a need to reprogram the balance system. It is estimated that 80% of causes of dizziness are associated with benign inner ear disease. Most of the literature states that the disorder will go away in 6 weeks to 6 months. This wait and see attitude has developed over 475,000 hip fractures each year costing Medicare over $26 billion dollars and an estimated 90 million Americans going to their physicians for this disorder.
Adolescent Balance Disorders: Probably the most misunderstood aspect of balance disease. Many children will undergo vestibular disease similar to adults; yet, they are treated minimally. Using vestibular retraining techniques similar to the ones used with adults can help children and reduce the onset of balance problems as adults.
Amputee Rehabilitation: One of the biggest fears of anyone with a new prosthetic limb is the fear of falling while learning to walk. We use the full-body harness system over the treadmill as well as throughout the facility to help make the transition to walking safely. We recently worked with a patient with an above the knee amputation who could not walk without severe loss of balance. Upon inspection, it was found he had a severe vestibular dysfunction along with his imbalance due to the new prosthetic limb. We treated both impairments to improve his walking independence.
Aviation Medicine: Flight is where much of this unique therapy began its science. When you fly without sight (darkness/clouds), you must rely on your instruments on the plane to maintain stability and turn off/down the instruments in your head - specifically the vestibular system. This can be extremely difficult for a pilot with a weakness in the vestibular system and may increase your risk for recognized and unrecognized spatial disorientation events. While it is the unrecognized you have to worry about due to the high mortality rate, you must also be concerned about the recognized as this could be the key to determining and weakness in you flight tolerance.
Cerebral Vascular Disorders: Probably the most common disease we see in our older patients are vascular disorders associated with poor blood flow to the head - in particular the brainstem. The common complaint of this patient is a sinister loss of balance commonly described as dysequilibrium. This leads to recurrent losses of balance and ultimately falls. Identifying the risk for fall is the key for these patients.
Chemical toxicity: Did you know that certain medications are toxic to your ears? Some affect your hearing, others the balance system, and some both. In the case where it affects the balance centers, you can get what is called bilateral vestibular hypofunction and in some cases complete loss of inner ear function for balance. The good thing is therapy can help - it won't regenerate the inner ears, but it will help substitute your other senses for balance.
Chronic mobility disorders: Many people as they get older just aren't as active as they used to be. Things like walking on the hills at the golf course, walking on grass at your local community park, or going up a set of stairs starts to become difficult. This can also affect those that are younger who may have had a stroke or they are suffering from Multiple Sclerosis. The key to regaining mobility is your ability to challenge it. The problem with most mobility disorders is fear of falling - we use full body harness systems to give you the confidence.
Dizziness/Dysequilibrium: This is the most common diagnosis we see at FYZICAL. The key to the management of the patient with this diagnosis is to identify the cause of your symptoms - most of the time it is complex. Just like any of the other disorders, we can help reduce dizziness and improve your balance.
Fall Risk identification, Prevention, and Management: Although not commonly recognized, falls are the leading cause of injury deaths among people over the age of 65. In fact, falls in people over 65 led to over 1.8 million emergency room visits in 2000 and more than 10,000 deaths. The direct cost to our healthcare system was estimated over $16.4 billion (NIH, 2003).
Head injuries/Concussion: Whether you are an elite or amateur athlete or just a normal person in the wrong place, concussion can devastate your life. More and more research has shown that there are two components to a concussion - the cerebral symptoms like amnesia or memory changes, but there are also vestibular symptoms. These are visual headaches, dizziness, nausea, imbalance, fatigue, and reduced function. Post-concussive vestibular therapy is very effective and can help you back to normal life.
Movement disorders: Parkinson's disease is probably the most common movement disorder we see in the clinic. The key to the management is medication control, strength and endurance training, education, and balance/coordination.
Neurogenerative diseases: Patients with Multiple Sclerosis commonly develops balance dysfunction. Balance Retraining Therapy can help reduce fall risk, increase stability, and control the progressive nature of this disease.