Our balance is maintained through the collaboration of several systems: Vestibular, Visual, and Proprioceptive systems.
The Vestibular system is located in the inner ear and brainstem. Head movements send signals from the ear to the brain. This allows us to maintain equilibrium, or balance. If an issue arises in this area, we can feel a spinning sensation, lightheadedness, change in vision, or more.
As Audiologists, we can help determine if the ear or central nervous system are contributing to dizziness or balance problems through Videonystagmography testing (VNG).
Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV)
BPPV is the most common ear-related balance disorder. This is a condition in which the otoconia (crystals) in the inner ear become dislodged from their base location, and are moving freely around in the fluid-filled canals. These semicircular canals interpret movement. When the crystals move within the canals, it can create a false sensation of body movement. Essentially, the body is staying still but the brain is receiving a signal that the head is moving. This relay of false information can create a sensation of dizziness or imbalance. BPPV is treated in the clinic with a series of body movements called the Epley Maneuver. This maneuver helps to get the crystals back into their base location. To ensure the crystals do not dislodge again, there are steps that must be taken to help keep the crystals in place.