Feeling a loss of balance? Are you dizzy?
The term “dizziness” encompasses a variety of sensations and can mean a lot of different things to different people. Generally, dizziness and loss of balance involves some disturbance in postural stability, movement stability, gaze stability, or an overall illusion of motion. Patients will often describe the sensation as “spinning, unsteadiness, lightheadedness, disequilibrium, disorientation, wooziness, floating, foggy headed or drunk feeling.”
With all of the possible causes for “dizziness,” the first step to dealing with the problem is to identify the cause. The Balance Disorder Program through SOMC Rehab Services has specially trained staff and state-of-the-art evaluation equipment to help identify the cause. Once the cause is identified, options for treating the condition can be explored.
Testing for Loss of Balance
The first step toward a diagnosis is categorizing the patient’s complaints as consistent with: central (brain), peripheral (ear), musculo-skeletal (soft tissue), or a combination of the above.
One part of the evaluation is a comprehensive test battery called an ENG (Electronystagmography). SOMC Rehab Services has a licensed audiologist on staff with the latest in ENG technology. The test evaluates the ability of the eyes, brain and vestibular system to work together to give a person posture and balance. These tests are sensitive to disorders of the vestibular system and can help to identify the cause, as well as help determine proper treatment options.
Another group of tests is part of a postureography evaluation. Postureography utilizes state-of-the-art computerized balance and gait assessment equipment to assess a person’s ability to maintain balance during activity. The testing procedure is safe and simple and takes less than one hour. Our Biodex System III allows our therapists to test walking ability, standing balance, and joint strength. The computerized test results help the therapist determine what areas of performance are below normal. Then, a specific rehabilitation program can be designed to address the areas of low performance that are the cause of the balance problem.
Balance Rehabilitation Program
If testing reveals that the cause of the balance problem is related to poor lower extremity strength, gait abnormalities, or issues with center of gravity, a patient can be referred for therapy.
A physical therapist will implement a program to reduce the areas of concern and improve the function of the patient. This, in turn, reduces the chance for a fall. Simple exercises for strength, flexibility and balance can be taught to a patient so they can continue to work on their balance condition after completing therapy.