Vestibular Therapy for dizziness, vertigo and imbalance

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February 20, 2016

The vestibular system is a complex organ that is located in the inner ear. It looks like the combination of a seashell and a set of bagpipes. When there is a problem in these structures, the result can be debilitating- feelings of spinning, motion, disequilebrium and nausea. The most common cause of this is from BPPV, or Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo, but there are many other causes that can result in vertigo, such as vestibular neuritis, hydrops, cervical spinal issues, cranial nerve 8 lesions (acoustic neuroma), fistula, ototoxicity, meniere's disease , cholesteoma, et cetera.

Where I see most practioners fail is that they may fix the peripheral, or inner ear problem, but do not address the central brain changes that occur after having such pathology. If you don't fix the remaining issues in the central structures of the cortex and brain stem, then the patient may not recover at all, or only partially. In order to understand this, you must visualize the brain stem as a switchboard, receiving and sending trillions of bits of information every day. However, just like any switchboard, you can have too much signal, or not enough. Or, what if the signal is wrong altogether, such as in a vestibular issue?

The answer is simple: when the brain stem receives improper signaling for any length of time, such as in peripheral vestibular pathology- it changes. This is known as Neuroplasticity, or a change in the brain. The input signal is off, so therefore the brain's output signal is abnormal and results in changes in spatial awareness, gaze stability, visual perspective, head posturing, balance, coordination, equilibrium. But what about the higher cortical functioning such as concentration, emotions such as mood, anger, happiness, or executive function, depression, anxiety? If your initial thought was that these might change, then you're correct. We often don't recognize the balance, coordination, spatial awareness and other aspects (unless we're higher level athletes), but may notice changes (or have been told by others) in our higher functioning brain- the part that gives us our humanism. 

To fix the brain, we must fix the vestibular system. To fix the vestibular system, we must fix the Brain. Portland Chiropractic Neurology, located in Portland, Maine utilizes the most recent technology in diagnostics and procedures to effectively treat all the possible areas of involvement that can occur with vestibular problems.