Bryan Center for Dizziness and Balance
Balance allows you to maintain a stable and upright position when sitting, standing, reaching, walking and leaning. If you have a balance problem, you may experience tripping, swaying, stumbling, dizziness, vertigo or even falling. Your balance may seem fine when standing still or performing a single task, but balance problems may become apparent when you move about or try to do more than one thing at a time, such as walking while turning your head to talk to another person. Balance problems occur when one or more of four systems in your body are not working properly:
- Inner ear (also called vestibular)
- Awareness of your body position
- Muscular system
The brain coordinates impulses from your eye, inner ear and body position, and sends signals to your muscles to move or make adjustments to maintain your balance. If one or more senses is not sending correct signals to your brain, or if your muscles cannot move the way they should, you may not be able to maintain or correct your balance.
Balance and Fall Evaluations
Our evaluation begins with a detailed history and physical screening to determine what specific tests are appropriate for your condition.
Balance and Inner Ear (Vestibular) Testing
Your balance/vestibular/fall evaluation will include looking at your health history, including falls and current medications, assessing how well you can move your joints, muscle strength and coordination, and testing your mobility and walking skills. Your therapist also may use one or more of the following tests:
- Neurocom Balance Master - This equipment uses highly sensitive force plates that you stand on. It simulates various scenarios like moving pictures, that test how you react and are challenged by the scenarios. A computer gathers information and uses it to measure how your body responds.
- Video Frenzel Goggles - These closely monitor and video record your eye movements which can give the therapist information regarding inner ear issues. (The nerve that controls our eye movements and inner ear are connected.)
- VSR Sport - These tests check for benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (also called benign positional vertigo or BPPV), the most common cause of dizziness.
- Berg balance test, Dynamic Gait Index, timed get up and go, walking tests, square stepping test, how well you can reach and others, all give your therapist information about you and your balance and help them create a treatment program just for you.
Your evaluation will focus specifically on the function of your inner ear by testing eye movements and responses of eye movements to head movements. Because the inner ear and nerves that control the eye muscles are connected, the data gathered by performing these tests and observing the visual response can help with diagnosis. This data can give your therapist specific information on the cause of your issues and design a program to address your unique needs. Also included is testing for benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV), the most common cause of dizziness.
Balance and Vestibular Therapy
Based on evaluation and testing, a specific treatment plan will be developed to improve and develop your balance system. Our specially trained therapist will choose a focus of therapy consistent with your impairments. Your therapist will then work to improve your balance and decrease your risk of falling.
The vestibular system is an area that not all therapist are specifically trained in. Our therapists not only have specialized training but also have vestibular specialty certification. They'll work on improving and integrating all three systems including hyper- and hypo-active vestibular systems. We understand that not all vestibular issues can be improved with therapy but many can be helped by our program.
Balance and Fall Prevention Education
An extremely important part of the therapy process is physical therapy education. Once the data is collected from your evaluation, we will work with you to overcome the deficit and educate you on things you can do to decrease your risk of falling. Education topics could include:
- Balance strategies
- Environmental changes
- Medication awareness
- Low light situations