Many people wonder what type of patients are seen for vestibular rehabilitative therapy (VRT)….is it just for the elderly? At NDBC, we see a wide variety of patients. As people get older their balance tends to decline and they are at a higher risk for falls, so many older folks do benefit from VRT. They may be dizzy and off-balance, or just have balance issues that need to be addressed. Most of our older patients have multiple contributing factors to their imbalance including: arthritis, peripheral neuropathy (numbness in your hands or feet), multiple medications, or stroke that will affect their balance. In to improve, all these issues have to be addressed.
Other vestibular diagnoses such as vestibular migraines, vestibular neuritis, concussions, benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV), and cervicogenic dizziness can occur in the younger or middle-age population as well. For example, migraines are most common in women between 20-50 years old and can cause dizziness, vertigo, disequilibrium, and sensitivity to busy environments. We also see many teenagers and younger people who have sustained a concussion, frequently from a sporting event. At NDBC, we have a specialized concussion program for young athletes geared at a safe return to sports. The physical therapists team up with our physicians and any other appropriate medical professionals and the athlete will be put taken through a series of steps that they must pass before being allowed to return to their sport. This may include staying out of school and other activities at first until the concussion symptoms improve.
As you can see, our patient population is varied and includes people at many different levels of activity. Some patients may only be able to tolerate standing for a few minutes at a time. For them, standing in a corner with their eyes closed may be quite challenging. Others may have no problem balancing when standing still, but may be off balance when walking with head movement. Yet others will have minimal symptoms with their daily activities, but have a hard time with work-related tasks or getting back to their more active hobbies or recreational activities. At NDBC, all our patients have a comprehensive evaluation, which gives your physical therapist a baseline of your symptoms and balance. We also look at your goals for what you want to achieve from therapy. Then, we can gear an exercise program specifically to your needs to provide activities that challenge you, but are not too hard or too easy.
Physical therapists need to be creative, and have many different exercises at all levels to provide something that fits with each individual patient. Have a specific movement or activity that is difficult or increases your symptoms? We can take components of that activity and turn it into an exercise that will help you be able to return to the activities you need or want to do. So no matter whether you are young, old, trying to get back to sports/high level activities, or just back to daily household tasks, we can work with you to help you achieve your goals!
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