I took several tumbles on cement stairs over a four month period. After the first fall at my physician’s office, I thought I just tripped. When I fell on the back steps at home,, I started to wonder if there was something wrong with me. I began to have dizzy spells many months prior to my accidents. I would wake up with the room spinning, or it would occur suddenly. Then my balance was off sometimes when I was home, and I’d bump into walls as if I were drunk.
I had an appointment with my neurologist’s PA , and she ordered several tests to determine why I’ve been having these issues. Once the results were in, I was given the diagnosis of peripheral vestibulopathy and central involvement. This is defined as”the perception of the brain and the information apparatus which sends details to it is faulty”. The PA prescribed vestibular therapy (aka balance rehabilitation) for me at home for eight weeks. This exercise-based regiment is designed to promote vestibular adaptation and substitution.
One of the things that A. mentioned to me was that I’d have to use a walker or cane for the rest of my life. Since my symptoms were always unpredictable, utilizing these would prevent me from injuring myself again. I wasn’t happy about it at first. Eventually, I came to realize that my poor husband needed a break from doing first aid and rushing me to the ER.
I was fortunate to have an excellent rehab therapist who was very well versed in this area. S. took the time to explain what the goals of VRT
(vestibular rehabilitation therapy) were:
1) to enhance gaze stability
2) to enhance postural stability
3) to improve vertigo
4) to improve daily activities
When he’d explain each exercise and demonstrate how it was done, I’d say something funny about it. For instance, he’d state, “walk toe to to toe five times back and forth”. I’d say, “Oh, you mean “the am I drunk test.” He’d say,”Stand on one leg for as long as you can”, and I’d say, “You mean act like a flamingo”. This went back and forth for several minutes to where we couldn’t stop laughing. I just had to lighten things up otherwise I’d take myself too seriously. Recovery time for this sort of problem can take anywhere from weeks, months, to years. This is why it’s so important to continue on even after the therapy sessions have ended.
I still have vertigo at times but at least there’s a way it can be treated. Plus, with the assistance of my walker or cane, it allows me to take steps safely. I wish I would have known sooner that problems can still occur years later after having a #Stroke. Oh well. Better late than never.