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Break Free from Post-Traumatic Vertigo with Physiotherapy

Vestibular physiotherapy is designed to address issues associated with the vestibular system, which is responsible for preserving balance and orientation. The vestibular system includes structures within the inner ear and brain that collaborate to govern both eye movements and balance. Vestibular physiotherapy in Edmonton aims to improve vestibular function and reduce symptoms through a variety of exercises and techniques.

Can Physiotherapy Help Overcome Post-Traumatic Vertigo?

Vertigo physiotherapy plays a crucial role in helping individuals break free from post-traumatic vertigo. When someone experiences trauma to the head, such as a concussion or injury, it can disturb the intricate balance system within the inner ear, leading to vertigo, dizziness, and imbalance. Vestibular physiotherapy in Edmonton offers targeted interventions to address these symptoms and promote recovery. 

Customized Treatment Plan: 

The physiotherapist will craft an individualized treatment regimen tailored to the individual’s needs and symptoms. This plan may include a combination of exercises and manual techniques.

Manual Therapy Techniques:

Joint Mobilizations:
  • Gentle, passive movements are applied to the neck, spine, or other affected joints to improve mobility and reduce stiffness.
  • Mobilizations may target specific vertebrae or areas of restricted movement to restore normal joint function.
Soft Tissue Mobilization:
  • Massage techniques like myofascial release or trigger point therapy may be used to alleviate muscle tension and reduce pain.
  • Soft tissue mobilization can help improve circulation, promote relaxation, and enhance tissue flexibility.

Manual Cervical Traction:

  • Controlled traction or stretching of the cervical spine to relieve pressure on spinal discs and nerve roots.
  • Manual cervical traction can help reduce discomfort and stiffness in the neck and upper back, which may contribute to vertigo symptoms.

Vestibular Rehabilitation Exercises: 

Vestibular rehabilitation physiotherapy often involves vestibular rehabilitation exercises focused on retraining the brain to compensate for any deficits in the vestibular system. These exercises aid in mitigating dizziness, enhancing balance, and improving overall functionality.

Habituation Exercises:

  • Brandt-Daroff Exercises: Repetitive movements that gradually habituate the vestibular system to positional changes.
  • Cawthorne-Cooksey Exercises: Series of exercises incorporating head and eye movements, sitting and lying positions, and activities like bending and turning to habituate the vestibular system.

Vestibular Ocular Reflex (VOR) Exercises:

  • Head Turns: Rapidly turning the head from side to side while maintaining focus on a stationary target to improve the VOR.
  • Visual Tracking Exercises: Following a moving target with the eyes while the head remains still to enhance VOR function.

Canalith Repositioning Maneuvers: 

If vertigo is caused by benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV), specific maneuvers such as the Epley or Semont maneuver may be performed to reposition dislodged crystals within the inner ear, alleviating symptoms.

Epley Maneuver (Canalith Repositioning Procedure):

  • The Epley maneuver is highly effective for treating posterior canal BPPV, which is the most common form of BPPV.
  • During the maneuver, the patient is guided through a series of head movements while lying down, designed to move displaced calcium carbonate crystals (otoconia) out of the affected semicircular canal.
  • The Epley maneuver involves sequential movements, including head rotation, tilting, and repositioning, to encourage the crystals to move from the posterior semicircular canal to a less sensitive location within the inner ear.
  • This maneuver is often performed under the supervision of a trained healthcare professional, such as a physiotherapist or an otolaryngologist.

Gaze Stabilization Exercises: 

These exercises focus on improving eye movement control and stability, which is crucial for reducing vertigo and enhancing visual function, especially during head movements.

Fixed Gaze Exercises:

  • Near-Far Saccades: The individual focuses on shifting their gaze rapidly between a nearby target and a distant target. This exercise challenges the eyes to focus quickly and accurately, promoting improved visual stability.
  • Target Tracking: The individual tracks a moving target, such as a finger or a pen, with their eyes while keeping their head still. This exercise helps improve the smooth pursuit of eye movements and enhances visual tracking abilities.

Head Movement with Fixed Gaze:

  • Head Turns with Fixed Gaze: The individual maintains focus on a stationary target while slowly turning their head from side to side. This exercise helps train the eyes to remain stable during head movements, improving gaze stabilization.
  • Head Tilts with Fixed Gaze: Similar to head turns, the individual tilts their head up and down while maintaining focus on a stationary target. This exercise helps improve vertical gaze stabilization.

Balance Training: 

Balance exercises help individuals regain stability and confidence in their movements. These may include activities to improve proprioception, coordination, and strength.

Static Balance Exercises:

  • Modified Stork Stand: Standing on one leg while lifting the opposite knee towards the chest. This exercise improves hip and core stability while challenging balance.
  • Standing Heel-to-Toe: Standing with one foot’s heel touching the toes of the other foot. This exercise promotes balance and coordination.

Dynamic Balance Exercises:

  • Changing Speeds: Walking or marching at different speeds, including slow, moderate, and fast-paced movements. This exercise enhances dynamic balance and agility.

Education and Lifestyle Modifications: 

Physiotherapists educate patients about vertigo triggers and strategies to manage symptoms in daily life. This may involve recommendations for proper posture, hydration, stress management, and sleep hygiene.

Vertigo Triggers:

  • Identifying specific triggers that may exacerbate vertigo symptoms, such as sudden head movements, bright lights, or stressful situations.
  • Teaching patients to recognize and avoid triggers whenever possible to minimize symptom flare-ups.

Stress Management:

  • Educating on relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing and progressive muscle relaxation, or mindfulness meditation, to help minimize stress and tension.
  • Discussing the role of stress in exacerbating vertigo symptoms and strategies for managing stress effectively.

Towards a Balanced Future:

Turning Point Physiotherapy in Edmonton is a vital and effective approach for individuals experiencing post-traumatic vertigo. By targeting the underlying vestibular deficits and promoting central nervous system compensation, vestibular rehabilitation therapy empowers individuals to overcome vertigo symptoms and regain confidence in their daily activities. With tailored treatment plans and ongoing support, Vestibular physiotherapy in Edmonton plays a crucial role in enhancing the quality of life for those navigating the challenges of post-traumatic vertigo.

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