Some loss of balance as you age is to be expected, but balance issues don’t have to be a fact of life, say the vestibular therapists at the U-M Vestibular Testing Center, part of the Vertigo & Balance Disorders program in the Department of Otolaryngology- Head and Neck Surgery.
Sept. 12 through 18 is Balance Awareness Week, and vestibular certified physical therapists Wendy Carender, PT, NCS, and Melissa Grzesiak, PT, DPT recommend people see their doctor if balance or vertigo is getting in the way of their regular life. Many physicians will then refer patients to the physical therapists and audiologists at the Vestibular Testing Center for evaluation and treatment.
“I personally used to go in and see Wendy very often, so much that I suggested they set up an office for me there. I was a regular pest,” said Harold Johnson, 89, who dealt with a variety of balance and vertigo issues as he aged, in addition to a history of Meniere’s disease and a cochlear implant.
Carender educated Johnson in specific exercises to reduce his dizziness and improve his balance and sent him home with a customized home exercise program. He finds his balance has improved so much that he rarely requires a visit anymore.
“The majority of our patients with dizziness and balance disorders benefit from an individualized home exercise program,” Carender said. “We’re teaching them to move through the dizziness in order to desensitize and decrease symptoms while promoting return to functional activity.”