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My Experience with BPPV – Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo

Vestibular Disorders

By: Dee Bills

As a physical therapist with over 20 years of experience I have pretty much seen or treated it all; but being the patient was a very different story.

Last March, I ended up with firsthand knowledge of what it feels like to suffer from vertigo; specifically BPPV. It was a Thursday in early March when I awoke with symptoms. When they say ‘benign’ they do mean benign because this came out of nowhere! I remember feeling “dizzy” or “off balance” in my sleep, though it didn’t fully wake me up. When I awoke in the morning I was facing the side of the bed so I didn’t notice anything wrong; but when I sat up it was like someone turned the world upside down and sideways! I immediately fell over backward on the bed; there was no warning and no ability to keep myself from falling backward. It scared me and I had to take a minute to calm down and regroup.  When I finally sat up the world felt more ‘right’ on its axis and I didn’t fall over. Once I convinced myself to stand up, I was able to stay upright; but I definitely felt dizzy and unsure of my steps. Turning my head made me feel like I was going to lose my balance. As the day progressed, the symptoms seemed to calm a bit and I was able to move around with just some occasional dizziness. Only turning my head quickly made me have to stop and take a moment to feel right.

I consider myself lucky because I am blessed to have a physical therapist that specializes in Vestibular Therapy on my team; Dr. Devin Wurman. Of course it was a snow day and one of the few times we have had to close the clinic so it was 24 hours before I could see Devin and have her evaluate my symptoms. The next morning I couldn’t wait to get into the clinic and have Devin treat me! Luckily, due to the recent snow there was space on the schedule. She did a thorough exam to rule out all other issues and then did her special testing for vertigo. When she is testing for BPPV, she has to position your head in a way that makes the “crystals” that are out of place move around in your inner ear. She then watches to see if your eyes react or if you have any other symptoms – like maybe the room feels like it is flipping upside down.

She tested the non-affected side first and as expected there were no symptoms. Then she started on the affected side. After about 5-7 seconds I started to say, “oh, well usually by now things start to get a little tipsy”…all of a sudden, the entire room flipped upside down! I was so freaked out that I grabbed Devin and told her not to let go!  Thinking back, it was kind of funny. If someone had videotaped that interaction I surely would have about a million hits on you tube!

Treatment for BPPV consists of positioning exercises to move the crystals in the inner ear back to where they belong, followed by eye exercises and a balance program. Within a few sessions, Devin had me back to feeling normal again! As I said before, I am blessed to have her on staff. And so are you. She is one of the only therapists in Loudoun County who is highly trained in Vestibular Rehab and she is here to help you whenever you need her. On top of being a Vestibular Therapist, Devin is also one of the best orthopedic physical therapists I know. And again, I am blessed to have her on my team.

 

If you are suffering from dizziness, vertigo, imbalance, headaches or other vestibular symptoms, don’t wait. Call Loudoun Sports Therapy Center today and schedule your personalized evaluation with our Certified Vestibular Specialist, Dr. Devin Wurman. Call 703-450-4300 TODAY!

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