John is a 56-year old investment banker who enjoys running and exercising regularly. For three days, John suddenly began experiencing extreme dizziness, vertigo, nausea, vomiting and loss of balance without any idea why. Afterwards, these extreme symptoms decreased in intensity, but he continued to experience imbalance, dizziness and feeling as if he was on a boat for two more months. Around this time, John decided to come see us at Dynamic Sports Physical Therapy in New York City to figure out what was going on.
Once John explained the symptoms he was dealing with, we performed a complete evaluation using a number of tests. Based on the evaluation, we found that John had decreased scores on two important tests related to balance. We also used a pair of infrared video goggles and a computerized test for dynamic visual acuity, and found a decreased vestibulo-ocular reflex. This reflex is a connection between the eyes, inner ear and brain that is responsible for stabilizing an image while the body is moving. If there is a problem with the vestibulo-ocular reflex, it will seem as if stationary objects are moving as the patient walks past them.
Based on this evaluation, we diagnosed John with vestibular neuritis, a condition you can read more about here. John told us that his symptoms were making it difficult for him to concentrate at meetings and work events in which he was expected to entertain clients. His condition also prevented him from exercising and running. His goals from physical therapy were to no longer feel dizzy and imbalanced, to resume his exercise routine and to perform his work duties without issue.
Given his diagnosis and goals, we created a specific exercise program that was designed to improve John’s vestibulo-ocular reflex. These primarily consisted of gaze-stabilization exercises, in which vision is to be kept steady and focused on an object while the head moves from side to side. We also performed habituation exercises to help John get accustomed to the movements that made him dizzy and instructed him to complete a core-strengthening program as well.
After six weeks of this vestibular therapy, John experienced a complete recovery from his vestibular neuritis. He no longer experienced and feelings of dizziness or imbalance at work or while exercising, and is now running 15 miles per week and training for a half marathon.
John’s story shows how much a balance problem can interfere with normal life, but more importantly, it highlights how quickly these issues can be overcome. If you’ve been experiencing any strange changes in your balance, or any other pain or injury, Dynamic Sports Physical Therapy in New York City can help determine the problem and establish the best course of treatment for you. For more information on vestibular neuritis or to schedule an appointment, call us at 212-317-8303.