What is Vestibular Physical Therapy?
St. Elizabeth Healthcare is excited to offer a unique treatment option to patients suffering from dizziness, vertigo or balance disorders – vestibular physical therapy.
Scott Schowalter, a Physical Therapist at St. Elizabeth, has been treating patients with vestibular therapy since 2003. He has taken a dozen different educational courses and also received his certificate of competency in vestibular therapy from a high-level course at Emory University.
“I find this type of therapy really interesting,” says Scott. “Vestibular therapy is such an effective type of treatment to offer our patients to help cure dizziness, vertigo or balance issues.”
Vestibular therapy is performed on patients by a specialized Physical Therapist like Scott. The goal is to reduce dizziness and spinning by improving balance through a series of techniques and exercises. The patient’s symptoms can be caused by inner ear pathologies, post-operative inner-ear complications, nerve damage, brain injuries or muscle weakness from getting older.
The inner ear (vestibular system) is typically involved with vertigo, which is when you feel like you are moving or spinning when you are still. Patients with vertigo can also experience nausea, vomiting, sweating and abnormal eye movements.
To treat vertigo, Scott uses a variety of head and neck techniques and exercises to help relieve or eliminate symptoms. He will also create a customized exercise program to help improve your balance and reestablish your equilibrium.
Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV)
Vestibular therapy is frequently used on patients with Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV). BPPV occurs when “ear rocks” (pieces of calcium carbonate) in your inner ear break off and move to a different part of your inner ear. Moving your head in a certain way causes those crystals to move and stimulate the nerve endings in the ear canal. The result is dizziness if you move your head a certain way.
To treat BPPV, Scott can move the crystals back into place with specific vestibular therapy techniques. The relief is oftentimes immediate for patients.
How long will vestibular therapy take?
Length of your vestibular therapy treatment is dependent on the root cause of your discomfort.
“It all depends on the type of disorder,” says Scott. “Some disorders can improve in one session, whereas some disorders can take 8-12 weeks, depending on the issue. Brain injuries can take even longer.”
Some disorders can go away completely with treatment, while other disorders can reoccur. Being diligent with your exercises is one way to help prevent dizziness or balance issues from reappearing.
Scott’s best advice? Stay active. His favorite expression is “a walk a day keeps the therapist away.”
We Can Help
To schedule an appointment with one of our specialized Physical Therapists, please call Central Scheduling at (859) 655-7400 or visit our website at stelizabeth.com. We offer multiple physical therapy locations in the Northern Kentucky area. A doctor referral is required.