Physical therapists help patients recover from dizzying disorder

If you’ve ever had what some call a dizzy spell, or a feeling of being off balance with no explanation, you may have a disorder called Vestibular Neuritis.

There are several causes, and some basic treatments for this condition.

Forty nine year old Anita Ruiz has faced medical challenges in her life.

“But this is the one, was ultimately the one, that I said ‘Is my life ruined now?’”, she said.

That question came after Ruiz suddenly started experiencing a sensation of spinning.

“Basically it’s like a drunk feeling and it would only happen when i would lay on my right side and I’m a right side sleeper so it really impeded my sleep,” she said.

Doctors couldn’t provide a diagnosis and medication for vertigo gave her no relief.

It was finally a referral to physical therapy that Ruiz learned she had vestibular neuritis, which impacts one of three balance sensor systems in the body.

“So we have the end organ in the inner ear with connections to the brain, which is part of the central vestibular system more like our computer processing center,” said Alison Diaz, a physical therapist with Memorial Hospital West Outpatient Rehabilitation.

When a disorder in the vestibular system occurs, in the brain or the inner ear, people can experience severe vertigo, dizziness, balance problems, nausea and vomiting.

Diaz said that depending on the cause and source, various physical therapy approaches can correct the problem.

“We do targeted gait stability exercises for the vestibular system and a lot of the time patients may feel like it causes a little bit of dizziness in the beginning but that’s our neurological system learning and adapting and healing from that initial injury and inflammation to that end organ,” Diaz said.

Ruiz went from using a cane and walker to standing on her own two feet again which leaves her feeling… “Like I got my life back, yeah,”

Various things can trigger a vestibular disorder: Trauma, infections, even medications.

It can happen at any age but is more common as people get older.

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