Written By Sunny Ma, MPT, BHsc, CAFCI, UBC Gunn Intramuscular Stimulation (IMS)
North Buranby Physiotherapy
The vestibular system is one of three sensory systems in our body that help us keep our balance and stay upright (with the other two balance sensory systems being the visual system and proprioceptive system, but that’s for another blog entry). Most people are aware that our inner ear has something to do with balance. What you may not know, is that the vestibular organ is in our inner ear that controls our balance and consists of crystals suspended in fluid held within a tiny labyrinth. As we turn our head, or when we go up an elevator, the relative movements of the crystals in the fluid will tell receptors in the vestibular organ if we our body is undergoing angular or linear acceleration. That is why if you are in an elevator with your eyes closed, and the elevator started moving, you can still guess if you are going up or down based on the information of linear acceleration from your vestibular organ to your brain.
Of course, just like any other system in our body, our vestibular system can break down simply with aging, or due to a distinct cause such as trauma or infection. One common vestibular disorder that can be treated by physiotherapy is called BPPV, or benign paroxysmal positional vertigo. This is the most common cause of vertigo, and it is believed to be caused by abnormally displaced crystals in the vestibular organ which can send incorrect information about balance to your brain. A person with BPPV may feel like the room is spinning either horizontally or vertically when they change positions, such as getting out of bed or even turning around to look at something. The spinning sensation usually only lasts between 30 to 90 seconds; but it can be very debilitating when it happens. Treatment a physiotherapist can do involves guiding the patient through specific repositioning maneuvers to help the crystals float back to their correct position inside the vestibular organ. If you or someone you know suffers from benign paroxysmal positional vertigo, book in with a vestibular physiotherapist for an assessment today to get rid of your dizziness! At North Burnaby Physiotherapy we have physiotherapists who are able to help you with BPPV give us a call a 604 298-9048 for further information or to book with a registered physiotherapist during our office hours or access or online booking software anytime at http://www.northburnabyphysio.com.