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Balance Health

Hendrick Balance Center

Patients referred to Hendrick Balance Center typically have at least one or more of the following complaints:

  • Dizziness
  • Vertigo
  • Unsteadiness
  • Falls
  • Weakness
  • Jumpy vision
  • Sudden hearing loss

These complaints may be categorized as symptoms of a balance disorder. A balance disorder may indicate a problem with the balance system, vestibular system, or both.

About the Balance System

This is a term that is loosely used to refer to the body's entire ability to maintain balance. It is appropriate to realize the body actually has several systems that help maintain balance.

The three main systems of balance are:

  • Vision - "eyes"
  • Vestibular - "ears"
  • Somatosensory (proprioception) - "feet"

About the Vestibular System

This refers to the balance portion of the body located in the inner ear. It consists of a network of tubes (semicircular canals) that are filled with fluid. There are tiny hairs within these structures that are bent by the flow of fluid. The hairs are actually bundles of sensory cells. Stimulating these cells causes messages to be sent to the brain via the vestibular nerve. This tells the brain about changes in head position. This system allows you to maintain your balance and vision when moving.

Vestibular Rehabilitation

What is balance?

Balance is the ability to keep your body upright. This is a complex system that requires many parts of the body including your eyes, ears (vestibular system), feet (somatosensory proprioceptive systems). Dysfunction can be caused in any of these components due to injury, disease, or aging, which can give rise to dizziness and/or imbalance.

What is dizziness?

Dizziness is defined as feelings of unsteadiness; wooziness (swimming feeling in head); light-headedness; and sensations of moving, spinning, floating, swaying, tilting, or whirling.

What is vestibular rehabilitation?

Vestibular rehabilitation is an exercise-based program designed by a physical therapist to improve balance and reduce dizziness-related problems. The goal of this program is to improve your ability to perform functional activities specific to your life and reduce your risk of fall or injury.

Who could benefit from vestibular rehabilitation?

Diagnoses: dizziness, imbalance, vertigo, Meniere's disease, benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV). Symptoms: dizziness or blurry vision with head movements, vertigo/spinning sensations, neck tightness/stiffness and/or pain, imbalance, need to hold onto objects when walking, headaches, frequent falls

What to expect

The physical therapist will complete an evaluation to determine a treatment plan. Some patients may be seen for only one or two sessions, other patients may need continued treatment for a few months. Each program is individualized based on patient specific goals, severity of symptoms, and response to therapy.