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Where’s your walking stick?

When I saw Gwen this week she was commenting on how she is feeling so much more confident on her feet, that she keeps going out without her walking stick.  And people are noticing. 

Gwen saw us initially for dizziness which was found to be a mixture of things including BPPV (Benign Paroxysmal Positioning Vertigo, vestibular hypofunction and unsteadiness due to poor vision and weakness on one side of her body.  Over five sessions we worked on the various problems. 

What is BPPV?

The brain registers dizziness on head movement because something (usually an otoconia crystal) is in one ear that gives an error message that confuses the brain when the head is moved in a certain direction.  This requires a special head manoeuvre to move the crystal into the right spot.  This usually only takes 1-2 times to do.

And Vestibular Hypofunction?

Vestibular hypofunction is where the inner ear works less well than it should.  The balance system in the middle ear is made of hair cells.  With ageing or trauma the hair cells can reduce and provide less sensory information to help the overall balance system.   But they can be tuned up and helped to work as best they can with the right exercises.  So Gwen has been doing exercises targeted to her current abilities.

Unsteadiness has multiple causes, and in Gwen’s case we picked just three additional exercises that were going to strengthen the weak area and improve her overall steadiness.  In particular, we have focused on improving sensory information coming in from the feet to help substitute for the reduction of sensory information from the eyes and ears.   We also did manual therapy (hands on work) to improve the neck and back alignment and looseness so that it could also help with providing better sensory information.

Gwen is so happy with the increased confidence in mobility she is planning to check in once a month to keep her back and neck working well and to progress her exercises.  We still encourage Gwen to use the walking stick as a precaution but it is lovely she is no longer dependent on it!

 

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