What is Balance Therapy?
Balance Therapy teaches the brain to better utilize information from 3 sensory systems to produce balance reactions that help stabilize your body and keep you upright. Balance reactions improve as you challenge your balance or cause yourself to feel unsteady because the brain must learn to process information and produce balance reactions more efficiently to keep you upright. General balance issues occur as our bodies decline with age and/or as we develop health issues that affect our sensory systems; such as, peripheral neuropathy, neurologic diagnosis such as, stroke, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s; etc.; vestibular dysfunction, or visual changes such as, macular degeneration.
Balance training appears to be one of the best ways to prevents falls. Studies have found that balance exercises, combined with other interventions, have been able to significantly decrease falls (up to 17% decrease) as compared to completion of the interventions alone. In fact, strengthening, walking, and stretching when completed on their own did not significantly decrease falls. Balance training can include challenges to the body when attempting to hold its position in space, challenges while the body is in motion or when performing more than one task at a time.
What is Vestibular Rehabilitation Therapy (VRT)?
If you are dizzy and/or off balance, or if you have experienced a recent bout of spinning of the environment, you may have a dysfunction of your inner ear, also known as your vestibular system. This portion of the inner ear plays an important role in your balance and coordination of your head and eye movement. Dysfunction of the inner ear can be caused by inflammation or trauma, which may result in symptoms of imbalance, dizziness, blurred vision, and sensitivity to visual stimulation/movement.
The goal of vestibular rehabilitation is to retrain the brain to better process and organize information from the inner ear, helping understand its “new normal” after a dysfunction of the system occurs. This process involves repetitive stimulation of the inner ear via movement to help the brain utilize the remaining information from the inner ear more effectively. Your brain will also utilize information from your other two sensory systems (vision and muscle/joint information) to promote overall improvements in balance and dizziness to help you return to your normal activities.
What Are the Indicators for Therapy?
If a patient answers yes to one or more of the questions, a referral to vestibular and balance rehabilitation may be appropriate:
Have you fallen in the last 6 months?
Do you have a fear of falling?
Do you experience sensations of the room spinning when you get in or out of bed or other changes in positions?
Have you limited your activity due to dizziness or imbalance?
What Should Patients Expect From
Upon arrival to your first appointment, you will be evaluated by our occupational therapist, Rachel Bouzy, that is specially trained to evaluate and treat patients with dizziness and imbalance. The assessments will include observing your posture, balance reactions, functional movements, and compensatory strategies. After the evaluation, Rachel will provide education on the exam findings and goals for your recovery, as well as answer any questions. Lastly, if agreed upon, you will schedule the recommended follow-up visits for treatment, typically 2 times per week for 8-10 weeks depending on your specific deficits and impairments.
Each treatment session is 40 minutes long. It involves standing and walking, as well as exercises specific to reflexes controlled by the inner ear. Our occupational therapist will work with you to determine a series of head, eye, and body movement exercises appropriate for each phase of recovery; tailoring the interventions to your individual needs. These specific exercises will challenge your balance and help your brain relearn how to interpret and utilize messages from your inner ear to help improve your balance and dizziness.
The exercises should cause a mild to moderate increase in dizziness for only a few seconds. This slight increase in symptoms in the short-term helps the brain make permanent changes to decrease dizziness in the long-term. You will be provided with exercises to perform at home and it is imperative that exercises are performed consistently because repetitive stimulation of the system is needed for long term benefit and effecting change in symptoms.
Conditions Balance and Vestibular Therapy can help treat:
Acute and chronic dizziness
Central vestibular dysfunction
Physical, Aquatic, and Occupational Therapies
74-057 Highway 111
Palm Desert, CA 92260
Mon - Fri 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Sat/Sun - Closed