Vestibular problems affect many seniors and can increase the risk of falling. Luckily, most vestibular disorders are treatable.
According to Abeed Hirji, a certified Vestibular Therapist at LifeMark Chinatown, Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV) is one of the most common vestibular disorders, especially for seniors.
“Fifty percent of all dizziness in seniors is caused by this condition,” says Abeed.
He urges people to get checked out if they suspect they might have a vestibular problem.
“It’s not normal to feel dizzy. If you’ve never been dizzy, and you’re dizzy, that’s your first early symptom.”
People with BPPV experience feelings of vertigo because crystals of calcium carbonate from the gelatin layer in the inner ear become dislodged and fall into the ear canal. These crystals then send false signals of spatial movement to the brain which cause the person to feel imbalanced.
“We do what’s called particle repositioning manoeuvres to get these crystals out of here and back into their chamber,” says Abeed. “It’s a biomechanical problem which means that there’s no medication that can correct it, there’s no procedure, there’s no pill that’s going to correct it. It requires a carefully done manoeuvre that gets those crystals back where they belong.”
Symptoms of vestibular problems include dizziness, vertigo, unsteadiness, motion intolerance, nausea and headaches. Vestibular disorders have many different causes and can appear in people of any age.
Abeed invites anyone who believes they may be experiencing vestibular problems to come to one of the LifeMark Physiotherapy clinics to get an assessment, which they can do without a doctor’s referral.
“Throughout the country we have many certified therapists.”
Many people don’t realize how treatable vestibular problems are, so they don’t bother seeking help.
“If you look at the statistics of dizziness, seventy five percent of dizziness is identifiable,” says Abeed.
And once the cause of dizziness is identified, treatment can be quite successful.
“For BPPV, normally anywhere from one to three treatment manoeuvres and people are almost one hundred percent,” says Abeed. “It’s probably the most gratifying thing to treat and it’s probably one of the quickest fixes in medicine.”
Anyone interested in learning more about vestibular disorders or who wants to set up an assessment at LifeMark Physiotherapy can visit www.lifemark.ca.
Abeed Hirji, certified Vestibular Therapist, LifeMark Chinatown, Suite 228 – 181 Keefer Place, Vancouver BC (604) 681-6630, [email protected]