SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – ProCare Physical Therapy of South Plainfield now offers a Vestibular Rehabilitation Program with the goal of helping clients treat, manage and prevent symptoms of dizziness and disequilibrium caused by inner ear problems and balance disorders.
“We have received numerous requests over the years from patients needing Vestibular Rehab,” said Cathy Scarpitto, PT, who, along with her husband Joe, has owned ProCare Physical Therapy since 1989.
Michelle Biggs, PT, who has been a physical therapist for over 30 years and a member of the ProCare Team since 2006 answered the call. “After receiving specialized training, Michelle is now evaluating and treating these patients and getting great results,” said Scarpitto, adding that Barbara Gonzalez, PTA, a licensed physical therapist assistant who has been a member of the ProCare team since 2002, is also trained in vestibular rehabilitation.
While the professional team at ProCare Physical Therapy has been treating clients with balance issues for years with excellent results, the vestibular client is different. ProCare’s Vestibular Rehabilitation Program is geared toward helping those who experience constant and reoccurring bouts of dizziness/disequilibrium as well as those with short-term symptoms typically associated with Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV)
Each year, over 12 million people visit their doctor for dizziness and imbalance problems and, according to Biggs, vestibular problems can affect all age groups. “Younger people may experience dizziness and unsteadiness and feel they have to live with it while older people who experience these symptoms tend to fall a lot,” she said.
BBPV typically occurs when the crystals in the inner ear, which control balance, become dislocated. Changes in head position may cause the crystals to move and, as a result, one may experience brief episodes of vertigo or dizziness. While activities that bring about the signs and symptoms of BPPV vary from person-to-person, they typically occur when one is in a specific position, such as lying down, rolling over in bed, bending over and/or looking/reaching up.
“If the crystals move out of position and the inner ear does not absorb and dissolve them naturally, dizziness will occur,” said Biggs, adding that, in many cases, the dizziness associated with BPPV passes when someone stops doing what ever is causing the dizziness. “A person is usually fine within a few minutes and can function throughout the day, but if they lay down, roll or go to get up again the dizziness returns.”
Those who suffer from the dizziness and disequilibrium not associated with BPPV may experience vertigo or dizziness, lightheadedness, feel foggy and/or fuzzy, and may complain of feeling unbalanced and unsteady. In addition to dizziness and imbalance, those with vestibular issues may also experience symptoms such as sensitivity to light and/or noise, motion sickness, headaches, nausea and difficulty in the dark. As a result, they may fall, stagger, stumble and lack sure-footedness.
The National Institute of Health reports that more than one-third of adults over the age of 65 fall each year because of vestibular-related issues, making dizziness and balance issue-related incidents one of the leading causes of injuries and, in many cases, hospitalization, among seniors.
“Elderly people are more at risk than any of the other age populations,” said Biggs, whose father recently fell and as a result, is now in a nursing home. “I feel personally connected and my goal is to help others improve their balance and prevent someone else’s parent from having to be placed in a nursing home.”
At ProCare, trained therapists will perform a comprehensive evaluation to determine the factors causing one’s dizziness or unsteadiness. Therapists will check one’s posture, standing and walking balance, vision and strength as well as try to reproduce the symptoms that cause dizziness in order to develop a personalized treatment process.
For those who exhibit symptoms of BPPV, ProCare’s trained therapists can typically alleviate the issues causing the dizziness in several treatments over the course of one to two weeks. Clients are taught specific techniques and exercises they can perform at home twice a day to help get the crystals dissolve. This technique can be used at any time if symptoms associated with BPPV reoccur.
“In the case of BPPV, it is not necessarily a matter of telling someone to avoid the positions altogether, but rather teaching them the proper techniques to get the inner ear crystals to dissolve and correct the dizziness,” said Biggs.
ProCare’s Vestibular Rehabilitation Program provides patients taking medication for their dizziness an alternative to correct and handle their symptoms. “We want to let people know there are other treatments out there and we can teach our clients techniques that work alongside the medication to help them deal with the symptoms and help them live a more functional lifestyle,” Biggs said.
“Michelle’s efforts have made a great difference in my life and my dizziness is gone,” said one of Biggs’ patients who turned to ProCare for help.
Treatment for non-BPPV Vertigo is more complicated because the reasons for the symptoms can be varied and the treatment approach more comprehensive. Therefore, it generally requires a longer duration of physical therapy.
It is important to note that while ProCare’s Vestibular Rehabilitation Program is not intended to cure Meniere’s disease, the treatment techniques available at the South Plainfield physical therapy office, can work alongside medical treatment to help Meniere’s patients manage the disease.
ProCare Physical Therapy will hold a free workshop on its Vestibular Rehabilitation Program at the South Plainfield Senior Center at 10:45 a.m. Monday, April 18. At this time, Michelle Biggs, PT will discuss the different types of vestibular programs as well as demonstrate some of the treatment techniques. Although no evaluations or personalized treatments will be provided at the workshop, those who attend will be eligible at that time to schedule an appointment for a free screening at ProCare’s South Plainfield office.
About ProCare Physical Therapy
ProCare Physical Therapy, which was established in 1998 and has offices in South Plainfield and Bridgewater, treats patients of all ages. Length of treatment is customized based on an individual’s injury or rehabilitation needs and ProCare specializes in orthopedics, sports medicine, back and neck injuries, industrial rehabilitation, pain management and now Vestibular Rehabilitation.
ProCare’s trained and experienced staff treats many conditions such as acute and chronic neck and back pain, shoulder pain, rotator cuff injury, elbow pain, wrist and hand pain, hip, knee and foot and ankle pain as well as provide rehab following surgery to get their patients back into the ‘game.’ Additionally, Nutritional Counseling is available at ProCare’s Bridgewater office, located at 475 North Bridge Street – Suite 102.
ProCare Physical Therapy accepts most major insurances as well as Medicare, No Fault and Worker’s Compensation; with the exception of Medicare, Workers Compensation and No Fault insurance, many patients are able to begin physical therapy without a doctor’s prescription. Office staff will verify insurance benefits ahead of time so there are no surprises and patients are well informed of their cost in advance.
ProCare Physical Therapy of South Plainfield is located at 201 Durham Avenue and hours of operation are Monday and Wednesday 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Thursday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Tuesday from 8:30 a.m. to 12 p.m.; and Fridays from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, to make an appointment or to register for the April 18 Vestibular Rehabilitation Workshop, call ProCare of South Plainfield at 908-575-0008. Additional information is also available online at http://www.procarept.us.
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Editor's Note: ProCare is an advertiser in TAPinto