Do you ever feel dizzy or have a sensation that the room is spinning? Equilibrium
issues like vertigo, as well as weakness in the legs, can affect your
mobility and make it hard to balance. But you don’t have to live
with these issues. Physical therapy can often help to get rid of vertigo
and build up your strength so you can stay balanced and live your life fully.
“Vertigo can be very disruptive and difficult, but we have techniques
and maneuvers that will stop the vertigo,” said Shelja Bansal, a
physical therapist at the Washington Outpatient Rehabilitation Center.
“You don’t have to live with dizziness.”
Bansal will present the upcoming “Fall Prevention and Balance”
seminar that will outline the benefits of physical therapy in alleviating
dizziness and balance problems. The free health and wellness seminar is
scheduled for Tuesday, March 8, from 1 to 3 p.m., at the Conrad E. Anderson,
MD, Auditorium, 2500 Mowry Ave. (Washington West), in Fremont. You can
register online at www.whhs.com/events or by calling (800) 963-7070.
Vertigo, described as dizziness by some patients, is usually the result
of a problem in the inner ear, she explained. The vestibular system, located
in the inner ear, is responsible for maintaining your equilibrium. Injury
and illness as well as certain medications and age can affect how the
vestibular system functions. Anybody can get vertigo, but it seems to
be more common in older adults, Bansal added.
“There are three main systems in the body that control equilibrium
and balance,” explained Sharmi Mukherjee, director and lead physical
therapist at the Washington Outpatient Rehabilitation Center. “They
are vision, the inner ear, and the sensory feedback you receive from your
feet and legs, which also incorporates muscle strength. If any of these
three get affected, the possibility of a fall is very high. In therapy,
we focus on the inner ear and strengthening the lower extremity muscles
to help you balance better.”
Serious falls are a major cause of injuries, hospitalizations and deaths
among older adults over the age of 65, according to the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention.
“About one in three adults age 65 or older suffers a fall each year,”
Mukherjee said. “Physical therapy can help to improve strength,
movement and balance, which can reduce your risk of falling.”
During the seminar, Bansal will explain what you can expect from your physical
therapy visits and how they can help. First, you will be evaluated to
see what you are experiencing, whether it’s dizziness/vertigo, muscle
weakness or other issues that affect balance and mobility. Each patient
receives an individualized treatment plan that is specifically designed
to address your needs, she said.
“We evaluate your situation and figure out what is causing your balance
problems,” Bansal added. “It might be that you need a referral
to a doctor because you have an underlying condition that should be treated
by a neurologist or ear, nose, and throat doctor.”
Often people who have vertigo can actually get rid of their condition for
good after a few physical therapy visits. Typically, three to four visits
will improve the inner ear condition, and then a maintenance program is
taught to continue at home. That is if the condition is purely vestibular,
she explained. Patients with weakness and mobility issues may be provided
with exercises they can do at home to continually improve their balance.
“It just depends on what your individual diagnosis and condition
is,” she said. “But the bottom line is you don’t have
to live with it. We can help.”
At the seminar, Bansal will also provide tips for making your own living
environment safer so you can reduce your chances of falling at home. That
could be installing grab bars in the shower or removing rugs that you
could trip over.
For more information about physical therapy services or to make an appointment,
call (510) 794-9672 or visit www.whhs.com/oprehab. To learn about other
programs and services at Washington Hospital that can help you stay healthy,