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Vestibular Disorders Assessment and Treatment

(732) 321-7010

Patients suffering from vestibular disorders – typically called dizziness – report symptoms of spinning, whirling, floating, sinking, nausea, vision problems, being off-balance or having a funny feeling in their head. Unfortunately, patients who do suffer from dizziness often consult with several physicians before their symptoms are diagnosed correctly. While dizziness is one of the most common problems patients report to their doctors, few realize that it may point to a serious condition.

At the Neuroscience Institute at JFK Medical Center, our physicians specialize in balance disorders and are active in research that keeps them abreast of the latest advances. They are supported by a multidisciplinary team of professionals, including audiologists, neurosurgeons and physical therapists, who are dedicated to creating a comprehensive program of care for each individual patient.

Causes
 

Inner ear problems cause 85 percent of all balance disorders. The labyrinth of the inner ear controls balance. When it malfunctions, patients experience vertigo and other symptoms. Many factors can cause vestibular malfunction, including:

  • Infections that may lead to labyrinthitis
  • High doses or long-term use of certain antibiotics
  • Meniere’s disease
  • A reduction or block in the blood flow to the inner ear
  • Head injury
  • Stroke
  • Degenerative conditions of the central nervous system
  • Acoustic neuromas
  • Crystals (otoconia) in the wrong part of the inner ear

Diagnostic Services

Diagnoses and treatment begins with a complete examination and assessment by a neurologist and physical therapist. Subsequent testing may follow to evaluate the vestibular system, vision, oculomotor function and hearing.

Computerized Electronystagmography (ENG)

Infrared video oculography provides a more reliable measurement of two-dimensional eye position than a traditional ENG. High-speed digitization of eye movements allows a quantitative analysis of oculomotor function and computerized waveform analysis of caloric and positional nystagmus patters provide greater sensitivity in diagnosis.

Computerized Rotary Chair Testing

Valuable in assessing the functional response of patients to rotational motion, the rotary chair can distinguish between central nervous system and labyrinthine dysfunction.

Computerized Dynamic Posturography (EQUITEST)

This examines patients’ use of information about body orientation, vision and joint position in the maintenance of balance and can be used to diagnose disorders of visual, vestibular, somatosensory or motor function contributing to balance problems. It is also useful to physical therapists in designing a therapeutic regimen and establishing a pre-therapy baseline of performance to assess progress.

Brainstem Auditory Evoked Responses (BAER) and Audiograms

These tests are used to evaluate the integrity of the peripheral and central auditory pathways in suspected cases of retrocochlear pathology.

Electrocochleograpy (ECoG)

This is a specialized audiological test that evaluates for Meniere's Disease.  

Treatment Options

Many balance disorders can be overcome with proper diagnosis and treatment. In mild cases, symptoms have been known to subside on their own as the inner ear heals or the nervous system learns to compensate for the disorder.

Even in persistent cases, some patients can be cured completely, while others may find their symptoms can be controlled through the individualized treatment programs created for them by the team at the Neuroscience Institute.

The complete range of treatment includes:

  • Drug therapy
  • Physical therapy (vestibular rehabilitation)
  • Balance retraining
  • Repositioning maneuvers (Epley)
  • Surgery (in rare cases)

The proper therapy is prescribed by an otoneurologist and administered by a specially trained therapist at the renowned Johnson Rehabilitation Institute.  

For a consultation with a vestibular disorders specialist or additional information, call (732) 321-7010.