More than a balancing act
Treating dizziness to prevent injury
Dizzy. Light-headed. Unsteady on your feet. Individually, these may not always seem like urgent medical conditions, but at Rush University Medical Center we take them seriously enough to employ space-age technology to uncover their causes.
Dizziness can signal health problems that need attention and can cause falls that result in life-changing injuries.
The Balance Assessment and Treatment Program at Rush uses computed dynamic posturography, a technology developed by NASA, to help pinpoint the precise cause of balance problems. Physicians and therapists can then tailor a treatment program specific to your needs.
“The brain is used to getting equal information from both ears, both eyes, the feet, the arms,” says James Young, MD, acting chair of the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. “If any of those are off — from a stroke, ear infection or a traumatic brain injury, for example — there is abnormal input to the brain. The result can be dizziness or balance problems.”
Other causes of balance problems include:
- Certain medications
- Pain or numbness in the feet
- Disorders of the inner ear
- Problems with blood circulation
Treatment can include physical therapy, physiatry (physical and rehabilitative medicine) and occupational therapy, as well as referrals to audiology and ear, nose and throat physicians.
In addition, treatment may include the Balance Master, which uses visual biofeedback to improve balance. It works like a video game. You stand on a platform that monitors your movement. The system takes you through a series of customizable exercises that can be practiced at home with simple and inexpensive equipment.
People of all ages are referred to the center from specialties such as orthopedics, neurology, geriatrics and otolaryngology. For more information, visit the Balance Assessment and Treatment Program home page, the Spine and Back Center home page or call (888) 352-RUSH (7874).