Step & Spine Physical Therapy, an industry leader in rehabilitative treatments, announced exciting results for patients with vestibular dysfunction, a condition that is plaguing the 40 and up population. Vestibular rehabilitation therapy (VRT) is an exercise-based program that teaches the brain to use other senses to regain function.
Due to bouts of excessive dizziness, Carol Mumford of Redmond was unable to walk correctly for more than a half-decade. It was during her desperate quest to get back a sense of normalcy that she set her first appointment with Stefanie Turner of Step & Spine Physical Therapy’s Redmond clinic. Turner started Mumford on a personalized vestibular rehabilitation therapy program to regain function. And it worked.
“Stephanie Turner is a savior to me,” Mumford said. “For the past six years, I have been unable to walk as well as I do now. I cannot say enough good things about Stefanie and the rest of the team at Step & Spine Physical Therapy.”
Vestibular Disorders Association (VEDA) reports that as many as 35 percent of adults aged 40 and over and 69 million Americans have experienced some form of vestibular dysfunction. This number grows drastically with age, affecting up to 80 percent of people aged 65 and older. Vestibular dysfunction often appears as dizziness, vertigo and other conditions that affect balance.
According to Turner, people like Mumford who experience vestibular issues often find great success through vestibular rehabilitation therapy. In fact, a 2014 study published by the National Institutes of Health concluded that people with both acute and chronic central and peripheral vestibular disorders often experience positive outcomes through vestibular rehabilitation.
“Physical therapy is extremely effective in regaining function when suffering from vestibular deficits,” said Turner. “The deficits can be peripheral, such as when a room appears to be spinning or feeling dizzy when sitting up in bed in the morning or they can be related to issues like stroke or neuritis.”
It is estimated that 45 percent of those who seek medical care for dizziness have vestibular dysfunction, which is caused by a number of conditions affecting the inner ear.
“Vestibular dysfunction can be debilitating,” Turner said, “dramatically impacting quality of life, missed days and inefficiencies at work, travel challenges and creating family issues. The good news is that such issues can often be sufficiently treated through vestibular rehabilitation therapy – often within just a few weeks.”
“The goal is to push patients past the point where they feel in control in order to strengthen their systems,” Turner added. “We work to get all their systems talking and working together while learning how to do things differently if they can’t go back to where they were before.”
Physical therapy treatments will often focus on retraining motor control strategies, reactive balance strategies, postural awareness, and the vestibulo-ocular reflex – the ability to stabilize images visually.
“It’s extremely effective for gaining function,” Turner said. “Even if you’re unable to walk, go downstairs or ambulate throughout the community without an assistive device, we’ll often see results relatively quickly.”
Turner recommends that people who experience reoccurring dizziness, vertigo or balance issues consider visiting a physical therapist first. After an initial evaluation, a physical therapist can either put you on a path toward potentially rapid improvement through physical therapy or, if needed, refer you to an appropriate specialist or physician.