Balance Awareness Week: September 14-20 2015

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In honor of Balance Awareness Week 2015, we’d like to share what this week is about and why Tidewater Physical Therapy is celebrating.

Balance Awareness Week is a recognized week that was started by the Vestibular Disorders Association. The goal of Balance Awareness Week is to reduce the time it takes to diagnose a vestibular disorder. Vestibular disorders can sometimes cause feelings of vertigo and dizziness, which hinders coordination, making it hard to balance. The Vestibular Disorders Association has started this week to “help patients recognize the symptoms of a vestibular disorder and urge them to seek help from a professional specialist”.

At Tidewater Physical Therapy we offer an in-depth vestibular rehabilitation therapy program lead by Vestibular Therapist and Clinical Director, Craig Joachimowski, PT, OCS, CHT in our Seaford, Delaware clinic. Tidewater Physical Therapy’s own Jenna Tryon, DPT, Susan Pender, MPT, Rich Recicar, MPT, and Billy Hamilton, DPT, CHT, are also qualified to treat vestibular disorders.

The vestibular system includes the parts of the inner ear and brain that process the sensory information involved with controlling balance and eye movements. If disease, aging, or injury damages these processing areas, vestibular disorders can result. Vestibular disorders can also result from or be worsened by genetic or environmental conditions, or occur for unknown reasons.

People are affected very differently by these symptoms and while some are faced with severe symptoms, other symptoms can be less obvious and harder to detect. People who experience vestibular disorders may have trouble performing everyday tasks. These people may be perceived as inattentive, lazy, or overly anxious and they may have trouble focusing in work or school settings.

The symptoms of vestibular disorders include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Vertigo and dizziness
  • Imbalance and spatial disorientation
  • Vision disturbance
  • Hearing changes
  • Cognitive and/or psychological changes

Not all of these symptoms will be experienced by every person with a vestibular disorder. It is also important to recognize that the type and severity of these symptoms can greatly differ from case to case. People suffering from vestibular disorders may be encouraged by their doctors to go to vestibular rehabilitation therapy sessions.

Vestibular rehabilitation therapy, or VRT, is an exercise-based program designed to promote central nervous system compensation for inner ear deficits. Vestibular Rehabilitation Therapy can help with a variety of problems that vestibular disorders cause.

During VRT, A qualified physical therapist (PT) or occupational therapist (OT) will first examine the patient and then treat the patient using eye, head, and body exercises. In most cases balance improves over time if the exercises are correctly and faithfully performed. Muscle tension, headaches, and fatigue will diminish, and symptoms of dizziness, vertigo, and nausea will decrease or disappear.

It’s important to not only be aware of the causes of vestibular disorders, but also the symptoms so you can help protect yourself from these disorders. Joachimowski describes what it is like to diagnose and treat a vestibular disorder: “Treating a patient with complaints of dizziness, difficulty walking, or problems with keeping their balance is like solving a very complex puzzle. These issues could be the result of an inner ear dysfunction or a central nervous system disease or dysfunction. My job is to help determine whether the issue is coming from the inner ear (vestibular) or the brain, and then to develop a treatment plan to resolve those issues.”

Be in the know and help us spread the word about Balance Awareness Week!

Craig L. Joachimowski

Craig L. Joachimowski, PT, OCS, CHT

Tidewater Physical Therapy

Seaford, DE Clinical Director