We’ve all heard the idiom “if I had a nickel for every time…. I’d be rich”. At BalanceMD, this phrase applies to when physical therapist Stephanie Ford is told by her patients “you have a different approach”. Stephanie specializes in vestibular rehabilitation therapy (VRT), a specialized form of physical therapy (PT) that focuses on treating the sensory part of balance. Frequently, we see patients who have had physical therapy elsewhere for their dizziness or balance problems, but they did not feel it was effective. We are told they worked on the stationary bike, did arm/leg exercises with stretchy bands, walked a “tightrope” and stood on one leg.
There is more to balance than being able to walk a tightrope or stand on one leg. Those activities can be used as measures of balance, but when do we need to walk a tightrope in our daily life? Most of the time, having trouble with balance is not due to leg or abdominal weakness. It’s a problem with the sensory part of balance (vision, sensation in the feet, and the inner ear) OR the brain’s ability to put together this sensory information and come up with the correct response under various conditions.
Improving the sensory part of balance is what VRT offers – it is different than typical physical therapy in that it focuses on getting the brain to use sensory information better to improve balance under a variety of conditions, not just hard surfaces, but also soft and uneven surfaces. The exercises are quite simple but very effective. They may involve standing on the floor with eyes open, eyes closed, feet close together, then progressing to standing on a cushion, or moving the head while walking. The exercises need to be challenging, gradually progressing the type of exercise based on the underlying problem(s) while also ensuring safety in practicing these exercises at home.
At BalanceMD, our patients are often surprised when they start feeling better about their balance within 1-2 weeks of beginning their custom exercises. As the exercises progress, they feel more confident and safer to do their normal daily activities again.
So, VRT is a “different approach”, and a very effective one for improving balance and reducing or eliminating dizziness.
I you or someone you know are suffering from dizziness or imbalance that might improve with VRT, please give us a call at (888) 888-DIZZY (3499) to schedule an appointment.