Dizziness, Vertigo and Concussion Rehab in Edmonton
If you’ve ever had a bout of vertigo, you’ll remember it for the rest of your days! Sometimes dizziness or vertigo comes on for no reason. Still, most people who have a concussion get dizzy or have vertigo. Only 3 in 10 people don’t experience any dizziness after a head injury like a concussion or whiplash.
And although dizziness and vertigo are common after a concussion, these specific symptoms don’t bode well for recovery. Dizzy patients are 6 times more likely to experience a delayed recovery time.
You might also notice cognitive problems, poor processing and thinking speeds and reaction times. This makes it more likely patients will develop post-concussion syndrome (PCS). PCS is concussion symptoms lasting more than three months.
Unfortunately, you can’t just take a pill to fix your vestibular system to cure vertigo and concussion. You can take pills for dizziness and nausea symptoms to at least feel better for a short time.
Fortunately, vestibular therapy for dizziness, vertigo, and concussion rehab in Edmonton is highly effective. This physiotherapy regime helps reduce your dizziness, improve your balance, and reduce your recovery time after you’ve suffered a concussion.
What Is the Vestibular System?
Your vestibular system can sense your head and body movements. It follows your rotation, forward and backward motions, and up and down motion. Your vestibular system is what stabilizes your gaze and helps you maintain your posture, keeping you upright and stable when you move.
Your vestibular system has 2 kinds of sensors in your inner ear.
Your bowl-shaped otolith organs contain tiny calcium carbonate crystals. As the crystals move around, your brain senses linear movement, up and down, right and left, back and forth. This makes it so that you know you are moving when you are in an elevator or in a car that is accelerating or decelerating.
You sense rotational movement with 3 loop-shaped, fluid-filled semicircular tubes covered with fine hairs. These tubes send your brain feedback whenever you move your head around at different angles.
The sensors send messages through your vestibular nerve to the various parts of your brain that control balance, eye movement, and posture. Your body and brain are always sending and receiving these messages, even when you are staying still. At the very least, your vestibular system can always sense the effects of gravity.
Normally, you should be completely unaware of your vestibular function. But if you have a vestibular disorder, you will undoubtedly notice something is wrong! Even the most basic activities, like walking, standing, or bending over, become a challenge. Some people have symptoms all the time, while others have sudden, unexpected, disconcerting bouts of vertigo. Whether acute or chronic, vision problems, imbalance, and dizziness are never convenient.
How Concussions Affect the Vestibular System
Concussions affect the brain. And depending on what sections of your brain are injured, your vestibular system may respond differently.
A concussion is a mild traumatic brain injury (mild TBI) that impacts the portion of your vestibular system in your inner ear. Most frequently, after a concussion, about 1 in 3 patients experience benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV). And you don’t need to have hit your head! Even an injury like whiplash that is not the result of a direct hit to the head can cause an mTBI and BPPV.
You may experience BPPV when the head injury dislodges the otolith crystals, and they get stuck in the semicircular canals. Then, that semicircular canal sensitizes to very particular head position changes.
For most patients, BPPV only affects one side of their head, but you can get it on both sides at the same time. Watch for symptoms like:
- Involuntary eye movements (nystagmus)
- Nausea, especially whenever you change positions suddenly, like getting up from bed or a chair or looking around
- Fatigue, poor sleep quality, and malaise
The attacks only last a few seconds most frequently but can happen without notice several times a day.
BPPV of this type is usually pretty easy to diagnose. If you are fine with your head in some positions but have vertigo when you move your head to other positions, you have this type of BPPV.
Concussion Causes Changes in the Brain
A concussion can cause changes in the brain that impact the vestibular system more indirectly, too. When a concussion damages the parts of the brain that control movement and balance, even a little, you might notice dizziness symptoms, sometimes all the time.
A non-concussed brain maintains a complex, balanced relationship between neurons and their blood supply to keep a constant source of oxygen and nutrients. When a concussion alters or disrupts this neurovascular coupling dynamic, affected brain regions stop functioning normally.
As a result, patients notice these changes as vestibular issues like balance problems, vertigo, and more generalized dizziness. These symptoms are more likely to persist all the time, unlike BPPV, which comes and goes based on your head position.
Concussions can cause direct damage to the inner ear or impact the vestibular system indirectly by disrupting how parts of the brain control balance or both. So, it is crucial to have a comprehensive assessment to determine an appropriate treatment plan to increase your chances for a full recovery.
Symptoms of Dizziness in Edmonton
Feeling dizzy is common after a concussion, but there are other reasons for dizzy spells. Yet, people use the word dizzy to describe a variety of symptoms. Here are a few.
- Vertigo – As the world turns, spins, or rotates around you, you may describe it as feeling dizzy. You might also feel a sudden falling sensation (when you aren’t falling.) Some people describe a feeling where the ground moves under their feet.
- Presyncope – Feeling lightheaded and weak, you wonder if you might faint, but you don’t pass out.
- Unsteadiness – You just feel wrong and unbalanced on your feet. The unsteadiness persists when you walk. It might feel (unpleasantly) like being drunk, or like you’re always just about to fall over.
Other symptoms include:
- Sensitivity to motion
- Blurry vision
- Difficulty focusing and concentrating
If you are dizzy, you might start to avoid moving your head and tensing your neck and back muscles. This often causes headaches with a stiff neck. Plus, you may naturally feel anxious about doing some of your normal daily activities while you feel dizzy or in case you get hit with a bout of dizziness. Some patients end up avoiding physical activity, which can cause other problems, and many hesitate to go out alone.
Triggers for Dizziness and Vertigo Symptoms
Everyone is different, so do what you can to keep track of what triggers bouts of dizziness or makes your dizziness more intense. Some people are never able to pin down exact triggers. Still, the more you know, the more you can communicate to your physiotherapist at Revive Spine and Sport Physiotherapy Clinic in Edmonton. Watch for situations with:
- Quick head movements
- Busy, noisy environments
- Aisles, rows, or columns, like grocery stores or spreadsheets
- Crowded places
- Positional changes like bending over, standing up, getting in or out of bed
- Driving or being a passenger in a vehicle
- Other types of movement like screen images or flashing lights
Should you Try Dizziness, Vertigo and Concussion Rehab at Home?
It’s tempting to Google exercises to do at home, and there are certainly thousands of videos on YouTube to choose from! But before going there, make sure you get a professional assessment. Dizziness, for example, has many possible underlying causes, and treating the wrong one will, at best, not bring any improvement.
If you have BPPV, you could spend all day doing exercises, even specialized vestibular exercises, which won’t make any difference. The condition needs specific repositioning, like the Epley Maneuver, to force those otolith crystals back into the proper position. A well-trained physiotherapist at Revive Spine and Sport Physiotherapy Clinic in Edmonton can perform the maneuver in just a few minutes. Afterwards, if necessary, they might teach you specific exercises to maintain your improvement to do at home.
Generic vestibular exercises can even make you feel worse!
Once you’re receiving physiotherapy, your physiotherapist will recommend activities and exercises to support your recovery and maintain results in the long term.
What to Expect – Dizziness, Vertigo and Concussion Physiotherapy in Edmonton
Chances are, you’ll need more than one type of physiotherapy treatment to support your recovery. That’s why we take a multi-disciplinary approach.
After Dizziness, Vertigo and Concussion Physiotherapy in Edmonton, most patients experience:
- Decreased symptoms of dizziness
- Reduction or elimination of feelings of nausea
- Better concentration, focus, and memory
- Improved balance sitting, standing, walking, and running
- Decreased risk of falls
- Improved ability to focus on objects both near and far
- Greater neck mobility with reduced neck stiffness and pain
- Less fatigue
- Better sleep
- Decrease in anxiety symptoms
- Increased confidence and the ability to return to previous activities and hobbies
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