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Another cause of dizziness due to dysfunction of the vestibular system is unilateral vestibular hypofunction. Sometimes one side of your vestibular system (one inner ear) is damaged due to an infection or vascular problem. Due to the damaged inner ear system not firing as much as the intact or undamaged inner ear system, your brain may think your head or body are moving because it is not getting an equal signal from both sides. This can cause impaired balance, a feeling of unsteadiness, or the sensation that your eyes are bouncing around in your head and cannot stay focused when your body is moving. Vestibular hypofunction can occur bilaterally (in both ears), as well in some cases, and the treatment approach would be similar to that of unilateral vestibular hypofunction.
A more severe cause of dizziness due to dysfunction of the vestibular system is unilateral or bilateral vestibular loss. Sometimes one or both sides of the vestibular system are completely destroyed due to a loss of blood supply or an infection. Antibiotics that are “oto toxic,” or damage your ears, can also cause this effect. If this is the case, your therapist will focus on a compensatory treatment method. Your therapist will teach you to use your other senses, such as vision (what you can see) and somatosensation (what you can feel with your hands and feet) to compensate for the loss, and will likely train you in the use of an assistive device to decrease your risk for falls.
There are many other conditions that can cause dizziness or a sensation of unsteadiness. Some of these include low blood pressure (orthostatic hypertension) and peripheral neuropathy (decrease of sensation or loss of sensation in your feet, hands, legs, or arms), which your physical therapist can also test for and develop a treatment plan for. Other conditions causing dizziness due to central lesions that your physical therapist can help you with are multiple sclerosis (MS), traumatic brain injury (TBI), concussion, and stroke. You can even have dizziness as a result of poor posture of your neck and upper back (known as cervicogenic dizziness) that your physical therapist can treat through a postural correction program.
Dizziness can have many different causes, and it can be difficult to get a correct diagnosis and treatment for your symptoms. Seeing a physical therapist for evaluation and treatment can help to establish a source of symptoms and help you achieve some relief in many cases. If you have been suffering from dizziness, ask your physician if a referral to physical therapy could help you!