Finding Balance After Vertigo
Like many individuals who experience vertigo, 68-year-old Sharon LoSasso tried to live with the condition — hoping the annoying symptoms would simply go away on their own. An ear infection earlier this year had long since healed, but residual vertigo made Sharon feel dizzy when she laid down, rolled over or took a shower. This didn’t interfere much with her daily life, except that she would avoid movements that might cause her to become dizzy. She had dealt with ear infections and their side effects before, but this time the condition was so severe that she sought help.
Sharon was referred to the Outpatient Rehabilitation Services Department’s Balance and Vestibular Rehabilitation Program at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas. Here, licensed physical and occupational therapists are trained and certified to meet the unique needs of each person treated.
“The Balance and Vestibular Program combines individualized care and advanced technology to provide services for people who suffer from a variety of conditions characterized by a loss of balance and/or dizziness,” explained occupational therapist Connie Thomason, OTR. “When I first evaluated Sharon, she became dizzy with basic eye exercises and showed poor balance, especially with her eyes closed. Clinical testing was all that was needed to confirm a diagnosis of benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV). This is the most common cause of dizziness and one of the top three reasons why people over the age of 65 see their doctors.”
BPPV occurs when small calcium crystals become dislodged from their normal location on one of the inner ear sensory organs. Because the “stones” become free-flowing, they may move around when the head changes position. It is the movement of these stones that causes an unwanted flow of ear fluid even after the head has stopped moving, leading to a false sense that the head and body are spinning around or that everything else is spinning, according to .
The name may sound rather ominous, but in reality, benign paroxysmal positional vertigo is generally easily treated. In most patients, it can be cured with a therapy maneuver and exercise program. In Sharon’s case, Connie performed what’s known as the Epley or Canalith Repositioning Maneuver. A few quick bedside movements resolved Sharon’s vertigo in one treatment.
Connie worked with Sharon during three more visits to Texas Health Dallas to also address her balance and eye stabilization. Additionally, a home exercise program was introduced that aided Sharon in a full recovery.
“I have been working in the hospital’s Balance and Vestibular Program for over nine years and have seen great success with BPPV patients being treated in just one to six visits,” Connie said. “Some patients come to us after having seen several specialists with no resolve. We are proud to be able to offer comprehensive therapies for a range of vestibular disorders, including BPPV, migraine, stroke, multiple sclerosis, concussion, traumatic brain injury, general balance and cervicogenic dizziness.”
Sharon is back to her active lifestyle and has started working with a personal trainer, with whom she has shared her balance exercises. As for the therapy she received through Texas Health Dallas, she had this to say:
“I never knew such a program existed, but I’m glad it does. Connie was amazing at finding a solution quickly and doing so with skill and compassion. I went in with extreme vertigo and nausea that threatened my ability to work, and Connie worked wonders.”
A physician prescription is required to begin therapy. For more information about the Balance and Vestibular Program at Texas Health Dallas, please call 214-345-7680. Most health plans are accepted.
To learn more about patients who have benefited from rehabilitation services at Texas Health Dallas, please visit TexasHealth.org/Dallas-Rehab.