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Health & WellnessPatient Stories

Victory Over Vertigo

April 12, 2021

A recent patient at Altru’s Therapy Services shared their experience with vertigo. Read their story and how physical therapy helped provide immediate relief.

“I awoke on a Sunday morning after a long and good night’s sleep. I recall turning to my right to check the time and sitting up quickly and swinging my legs over the edge of the bed. I immediately fell backwards and felt like I had fainted without losing consciousness. Any movement caused the room to spin, and I had immediate nausea and dry heaves. Two weeks prior to this happening, I had felt a couple moments of dizziness that appeared out of nowhere, but they didn’t stick around like they did on Sunday morning. All symptoms pointed to vertigo.”

woman with vertigo

Vertigo is defined as an “illusion of movement of either the body or the environment, usually described as spinning.” One of the most common forms of vertigo is Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo, or BPPV, which is caused by calcium crystals (otoliths) that get stuck in the inner ear canal. Head turns and position changes, such as rolling over in bed, often worsen these symptoms of vertigo. Symptoms are typically 15-45 seconds in duration and can also lead to nausea and vomiting.

Vertigo can also occur from other vestibular dysfunctions due to some sort of damage to the inner ear. Damage can be caused by disease, viral infections, stroke, degeneration, or blows to the head. Listed below are some dysfunctions that can be treated by Altru’s vestibular physical therapists:

man doing an ear examination

Fortunately, BPPV can be treated in just a couple of sessions using canalith repositioning techniques (CRT) performed by physical therapists. Some patients experience full recovery with just one treatment. Altru has three PTs with advanced training and national certifications who specialize in vestibular rehabilitation, which includes treating BPPV and the other dysfunctions listed above. Jeff Haney PT, DPT; Maureen Riley, PT, MPT; and Alli Slick, PT, DPT have a combined forty-three years of experience in treating vestibular dysfunctions. They perform a specialized vestibular evaluation for each patient individually and provide a customized treatment depending on which dysfunction is present.

“I was able to get an appointment the next morning with one of the vestibular physical therapists at Altru. She thoroughly explained what the procedure would be to determine the course of treatment for my particular case. She put me through a series of gentle maneuvers and movements, and I felt immediate relief. I was given instructions for what to expect when at home and to come back in if another treatment was needed. I did go for a second treatment as symptoms returned but weren’t as severe. Again, I felt immediate relief after my second appointment and was provided with a home program in case symptoms returned.”

“Vertigo is something I don’t want to experience again but if symptoms reappear, I will return to Altru for physical therapy treatment.”

If you experience sudden onset of vertigo or dizziness, you may see or contact your primary care physician who could then refer you to physical therapy for an evaluation and treatment. To schedule an appointment with a Vestibular Therapist or if you have questions regarding Vestibular Rehabilitation, call 701.780.2330.

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