Vestibular Decompensation

These are certainly some unusual times that have required adjustments to our daily routine. Moving into the 7th week of quarantine we find ourselves working from home, schooling children at home, and trying to exercise at home to name a few modifications. Even though the gyms and fitness facilities are closed, we must indeed continue to exercise for the general health of our bodies. Just like our bodies need movement, our inner ear (aka: vestibular system) needs continued exercise as well, especially if you are one of the unlucky individuals that suffer from a vestibular disorder or a past vestibular event including but not limited to BPPV (loose crystals in your ear), Vestibular Neuritis/Vestibular Hypofunction, Labyrinthitis, Acoustic Neuroma, etc.

If you have suffered from an inner ear dysfunction in the past and recovered from it that is excellent news! You went through the central compensation process of healing! You know the rigorous therapy or treatments it took to be able to return to function. The vestibular system behaves much like the rest of the body. When you take a week or two off from your workouts, it is pretty tough getting back into shape right?! You ear can become ‘out of shape’ just as well as the rest of your body and we formally call this Vestibular Decompensation. If you are not regularly exercising both your body and your vestibular system (i.e. lots of head and body movement or doing previously given vestibular exercises) then you are prone to have your imbalance, dizziness and vertigo symptoms return! If you have been immobile secondary to COVID or illness in general, this can happen to you. Often individuals that have suffered from a vestibular disorder believe that once they have overcome it that symptoms will not return but I’m here to tell you that they absolutely can rear their heads again if you do not keep up with a regular maintenance program! If this sounds familiar, it might be worth contacting one of the vestibular physical therapists at APRS to learn how to incorporate vestibular stimulating exercises into your regular exercise program to maintain its function so you don’t suffer imbalance and dizziness in the future.

Kelsey Housman PT, DPT is an Emory Certified Vestibular Physical Therapist at APRS Physical Therapy.