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  • Dizziness affects about 30% of individuals over age 65.
  • People affected by dizziness have a significantly increased risk for falling. 
  • About 20% of all dizziness is due to an inner dysfunction called Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV). 

What is BPPV?
BPPV is caused when small otoconia, or “ear rocks” become displaced. 

BPPV can be caused by any even that causes jarring of the head, including a fall, however, most often the cause is unknown. 

Symptoms include a sensation of spinning with certain movements with possible nausea and vomiting. Symptoms frequently occur with lying down, sitting up, rolling over, looking up, bending forward, and with quick head turns. Physical therapy treatment for this condition is very successful and patients are often surprised with the speed of recovery.
The evaluation for vertigo consists of taking a history of your symptoms and other medical history, including medications, discussing the frequency and duration of “attacks”, screening vision, and assessment of the vestibular system. Throughout this assessment, you will likely experience dizziness. I often tell patients “if I can make you dizzy, I can make you better”. Prepare yourself to become dizzy, and please view this as a positive sign that you are on the road to recovery. BPPV is typically resolved within 3-6 sessions. If imbalance and falls occur as a result of the BPPV, further treatment in balance retraining may be required once vertigo is resolved. Often times, once the vertigo is resolved, balance returns and no further treatment is required.
How Can Physical Therapy Help?
At Focus on Function Physical Therapy, BPPV and other diagnosis will be treated by Colleen Sleik, PT, DPT, OCS.You will be assessed using video infrared goggles that allow your physical therapist to more thoroughly evaluate your condition (left). Treatment of BPPV consists of moving your head through various positions in order to reposition the displaced ear rocks, called canalith repositioning. You will likely experience dizziness throughout this treatment, however, should experience decreased symptoms after the first maneuver. Following the treatment, you will be instructed in positions to avoid to ensure success of the treatment.

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