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Finding Balance!

Some days work can make your head spin. Deadlines, meetings, commuting –it can take its toll. But for 8 million Americans, it’s more than work that’s keeping them off balance; and nothing a V8 can fix.

Balance and dizziness disorders can be debilitating: constant interruption in a person’s daily life affecting their work, ability to stay on the job, personal and family life.

Many people who suffer from dizziness experience Vertigo, a sensation that you or your surroundings are moving when they’re not.

This motion commonly is described as a feeling of spinning or whirling, but it also can include sensations of falling or tilting. Vertigo may induce nausea and vomiting. Sometimes it is hard to walk or stand or causes loss of balance and falling.

Balance issues can range from very common ailments like an inner-ear infection or dehydration or sometimes something more complex is the culprit: for example, Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV), Menieres disease, and Vestibular Disorders. Many of these disorders can be treated effectively with physical therapy.

“Patients who experience these effects generally respond well to balance retraining and strengthening exercises,” said Michael Chiacchiero, physical therapist, Outpatient Rehabilitation Medicine, SIUH. “For instance, Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV) can often be treated successfully in 1 to 2 sessions of physical therapy.”

Patients with BPPV experience a spinning sensation when they roll to one side or the turn their head a certain way. Calcium carbonate crystals collect in the semicircular canals of the inner ear. These crystals result in mixed messages to the brain causing the spinning sensation.

To treat this problem, physical therapists perform a Canalith Repositioning Maneuver, which involves specific head positions that allow movement through the canals so the crystals can be carried away, often relieving the symptoms.

Other disorders such as Labrynthitis, Neuritis, head trauma and stroke can also cause dizziness and vertigo. A physiatrist can evaluate a person’s movement, vision, balance and gait and develop a treatment plan based on results.

Always make sure you consult your primary physician who may refer you to a neurologist or an ear, nose & throat MD. You may need to be evaluated for physical therapy. Call the Rehabilitation Medicine Office at Staten Island University Hospital at 718-226-6362 at the North Site, and 718-226-2520 at the South Site. Get back on track!

You can reach the Office of Otolaryngology (Ear, Nose and Throat) at 855-SIUH-ENT.

Theodore Strange, MD, associate chairman of the Department Medicine and vice president of Medical Operations, SIUH South.

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