Due to the complexity of the balance system, not all balance problems are the same. In addition, the wide variety of balance problems can make it difficult to determine the cause of a balance disorder and to determine which treatment options are the most appropriate. In the past 20 years, significant advances in the evaluation and treatment of balance disorders have proven to be highly effective and can offer relief to those suffering from imbalance or dizziness. If you are suffering from a balance disorder, it is important that you seek out medical professionals who specialize in this area.
Videonystagmography (VNG)/Electronystagmography (ENG) is a battery of tests where eye movements are recorded via small electrodes or video goggles. This helps diagnose inner ear related or neurological problems. During a portion of the test, cool and warm water is circulated in the ear canal. This stimulates the inner ear and assesses its function. (Approximate test duration: 1 hour)
The Rotary Chair test allows a clinician to better assess the function of the inner ear. During the test, the patient sits securely in a dark room, while the chair rotates slowly from side to side or in a circle. Special goggles with a small camera are used to record eye movements that occur while the patient rotates or watches moving lights. (Approximate test duration: 30 minutes)
Computerized Dynamic Posturography (CDP) is a test used by audiologists and physical therapists to help assess and treat the three systems that contribute to balance: inner ear, vision, and motor sensors (feet, ankles, and joints). A patient’s ability to participate in normal activities can be greatly affected if any of these three systems are not working correctly. Information gathered during posturography helps the therapist identify fall risk factors and develop an individualized treatment plan. The patient stands as steady as he/she can, first on a firm floor, then with the wall and/or the floor moving slightly around them. The patient always wears a safety harness to guard against falls. These tests provide information about how well the patient can maintain balance under changing conditions. (Approximate test duration: 30 minutes)
Vestibular Rehabilitation Therapy (VRT) is a comprehensive therapy program that integrates knowledge from the specialties of neurology, otorhinolaryngology, audiology and physical therapy to effectively treat the problem of balance, to increase balance function and to increase general activity levels
Following the series of diagnostic balance testing, the patient may also undergo a vestibular rehabilitation evaluation. A qualified vestibular therapist will perform a thorough evaluation that observes posture, balance, movements and compensation strategies. Following these evaluations, the physician may recommend continued vestibular rehabilitation.
Vestibular rehabilitation therapy has been shown to be the most effective treatment for most balance and dizziness problems. The vestibular therapist will develop an individualized treatment plan based on diagnosis of your problem(s). This plan typically includes exercises to be performed both in the therapy department as well as at home. These exercises combine specific head and body movements with eye exercises. In most cases, balance and symptoms improve if these exercises are correctly and faithfully performed. You may continue to have regular follow up visits with the therapist until compensation and habituation are complete and optimal balance is attained.