Vertigo and Balance Disorders
A functional sense of balance is created by a cohesive collaboration of several parts of the brain and nerve system. These parts are the somatosensory system (proprioception), the vestibular system, the visual system and the auditory system. Dysfunction in any of these systems can cause a balance disorder. A balance disorder can cause the perception of unsteadiness in any position (lying, sitting, standing or walking). It can be accompanied by a sense of dizziness or feeling disoriented.
Vertigo is a type of dizziness and refers to a perception of self-motion or motion of the surrounding world. Vertigo is one of the most common neurological complaints, affecting approximately 20-30 percent of the general population. An inner ear disease, known as a vestibulopathy, can cause vertigo, or it can be due to a lesion of part of the central nerve system (brainstem, cerebellum or brain). Some symptoms associated with vertigo are:
• Imbalance/False sense of movement or rotation
• Difficulty walking
• Hearing loss
• Fullness and/or pain in the ear
• Nystagmus (a rhythmic jerking movement of the eyes)
• Slurred speech
• Double vision
Many neurological disorders can cause the symptoms of vertigo and imbalance. At the NeuroLIFE Institute, we perform an extensive neurological exam to determine the cause of these symptoms so that we might direct the most expedient and effective course of care. In conjunction with traditional neurological examination, we utilize computerized dynamic posturography (CDP) to objectively quantify and differentiate among the possible impairments to balance control. Additionally, we use videonystagmography (VNG) for objective vestibular and central nerve system assessment. These tests include following visual targets with the eyes as well as stimulation to the vestibular system. Both the CDP and VNG testing are non-invasive and painless.
Care for balance disorders and vertigo consists of specific vestibular rehabilitation therapies that are customized to the unique requirements of each individual patient. These care methods might consist of one or more of the following: specific eye movement exercises (pursuits, saccades, convergence, fixation and gaze stabilization); vestibular stimulation exercises (movements of the head in a prescribed direction and speed to elicit specific outcomes); gait therapies; whole body rotation in the GyroStimTM, which is a rotational chair that moves through the planes of yaw (left and right) and pitch (forward and backward); body movement therapies uniquely directed to stimulate the affected areas of the central nerve system; balance training therapies; and cranial nerve stimulations therapies directed at enhancing the function of specific brainstem or brain dysfunction. This list is not exhaustive and might include other therapies determined by the treating doctor deemed affective after a careful analysis of each patient.
During and after each method of care, the chiropractic neurologist assesses each patient to determine the results. This constant process of monitoring allows our doctors to expedite the care process. Outcomes of care at our facility are positive in most cases, with patients typically experiencing some level of symptom relief and others experiencing total relief. If a patient does not respond to our care or is not a candidate for care, they will be referred to another facility that might be better suited for their recovery, if possible. Whether or not a patient is a candidate for our treatment can only be determined by examination.
Our approach can help optimize balance. There are three major areas of the brain deal with balance; being over-dependent on the wrong system can cause difficulties when that area is challenged. We optimize all three.