Painless therapy at Banner Boswell rids woman of months-long vertigo
SUN CITY, Ariz. (Jan. 12, 2011) – Sun City resident Shelby Bearden woke up one morning with severe vertigo. She felt herself spinning out of control and couldn’t get out of bed. Once she did, she discovered she couldn’t look up, down or to the left without feeling dizzy. She thought it would go away, but after several weeks of life-altering vertigo, she sought help from her doctor. Months of testing ruled out other conditions, including a brain tumor, and led the 72-year-old to a diagnosis of Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV), a disorder that occurs when small crystals of calcium normally found in the inner ear shift out of place. The crystals, or otoconia, stimulate sensitive nerve hairs and send false signals to the brain, causing vertigo and other symptoms. Bearden’s neurologist referred her to a physical therapist at Banner Boswell Medical Center in Sun City.
After one visit with physical therapist Kristi Olthoff, the debilitating vertigo that Bearden experienced for nearly six months was gone. Olthoff, who is certified in vestibular rehabilitation, used a canalith repositioning procedure (CRP), leading Bearden through a series of head position changes to move the calcium crystals in Bearden’s inner ears, stopping the false signals that were being sent to her brain. The simple and painless procedure takes less than 15 minutes and is 80 percent effective in curing BPPV without the need for medication.
Of the two million Americans who suffer from chronic dizziness, 20 percent have BPPV. Head trauma is one typical cause. The condition also appears to be related to holding your head in a certain position for a prolonged period of time (such as having your hair washed at the beauty salon). In half of all cases, BPPV has no known cause. It affects even the most basic functions of daily living, such as bathing, dressing, eating and driving.
In Bearden’s case, each time she moved her head, she would experience a spinning sensation. “I learned to know how I could move to just exist, or I’d fall flat on my face,” she said. “I was sometimes all over the room just trying to get balanced.” She would walk very carefully, once even grabbing a stranger’s arm in a fast-food restaurant to keep from falling when a “dizzy spell” came on.
Bearden “thanks God” for the therapy, and is now back to working in her yard, going for walks and decorating her house – all things she stopped doing during her months with BPPV.
While the CRP therapy isn’t used to treat all types of dizziness, Olthoff encourages people who are experiencing dizziness to talk with their doctor about possible causes and treatments. Once a patient is diagnosed with BPPV, a certified vestibular therapist can determine where the crystals are and perform a specific maneuver to reposition them and eliminate the vertigo.
Other Banner Health hospitals offer physical therapists certified in vestibular rehabilitation, including Banner Del E. Webb, Banner Thunderbird, Banner Good Samaritan and Banner Desert medical centers.
About Banner Boswell Medical Center
Banner Boswell Medical Center is a 430-bed, acute-care hospital located in Sun City, Arizona. Founded in 1970, Banner Boswell offers heart services, cancer care, orthopedics, neurosciences, women’s diagnostics, emergency care, and medical and surgical services. Supporting Banner Boswell’s mission of excellent patient care is Sun Health, which encourages charitable giving to enhance health care delivery. Banner Boswell is part of nonprofit Banner Health, named a Top Ten Hospital System in the U.S. by Thomson Reuters, with 23 hospitals throughout the West. For more information about Banner Boswell, visit www.BannerHealth.com/Boswell.