Balance Awareness Week 2013
Once again our office is participating in Balance Awareness Week which this year is from September 16-23rd. Each year the Vestibular Disorders Association sponsors this event to help get the word out about balance disorders. Here are some facts about the vestibular system that you may not be aware of:
The word “vestibular” refers to the inner-ear balance system. To achieve good physical balance we rely on our brain, eyes, inner-ear, and muscular-skeletal system to work in harmony. Balance is commonly taken for granted until it is impaired. Over 35% of US adults aged 40 years and older (69 million Americans) have had vestibular dysfunction at some point in their lives. Balance problems can occur from many reasons: inner-ear disease, a virus, a traumatic brain injury, poisoning by certain antibiotics (ototoxicity), autoimmune causes, migraines, and aging
People with vestibular disorders are challenged with the following symptoms: vertigo (spinning sensation), dizziness, fatigue, jumping vision, unsteadiness, “brain fog”, nausea/vomiting, hearing loss, and ringing in the ears (tinnitus).
People with vestibular disorders can suffer cognitive impacts, such as poor concentration, memory, and word recall; difficulty reading while tracking printed text; and impaired mental stamina. An often successful treatment is Vestibular Rehabilitation Therapy (VRT). VRT has been shown to be an important part of the management of vestibular patients and can improve by 70-80%.
Some low-impact exercise routines can improve balance, such as Tai Chi, yoga or use of the Wii video game along with the Wii Balance Board.
Balance disorders are an invisible chronic illness. Because they are “invisible,” others frequently assume the patient is overreacting or faking their symptoms. Early research on the vestibular system came from NASA’s study on returning astronauts in the space program.
You can help support this important organization by going to our VEDA main page and click on “donate now.” If you have any questions about balance disorders please feel free to call our office for additional information.
Barbara Grossman, AuD.