Vertigo, dizziness, unsteadiness, imbalance and disequilibrium are common complaints in both the general adult and the geriatric populations. The patient who complains of these symptoms often presents a diagnostic and management dilemma to the attending physician, audiologist, or physical therapist. Dizziness is a symptom that cannot be quantified, and a lengthy case history is needed to understand the sensation the patient is describing.
The cause of dizziness/vertigo can range from benign self-limiting conditions to potentially life-threatening conditions. It can occur from disruptions in one or more of the sensory systems responsible for balance or from inaccurate integration and central processing of information received from these sensory systems. Dizziness could be the result of an identifiable pathology or a combination of any number of subclinical pathologies. The cause may be otologic, neurologic, cardiovascular, psychiatric, orthopedic, ophthalmologic, or none of these.
Vestibular assessment is an important diagnostic tool used to evaluate an individual's balance and coordination system. It involves various tests to determine the function of the inner ear and the vestibular system, which are critical components of our balance mechanism. In this blog, we will discuss vestibular assessment, its importance, and what it entails.
What is vestibular assessment?
Vestibular assessment is a comprehensive evaluation of an individual's balance and coordination system. The assessment involves a series of tests to determine the function of the inner ear and the vestibular system, which are responsible for maintaining our balance and preventing falls. These tests are performed by a vestibular specialist, also known as an audiologist, who will use various techniques to measure the function of the inner ear and vestibular system.
Why is vestibular assessment important?
Vestibular assessment is crucial in diagnosing and treating various balance and coordination disorders, such as vertigo, dizziness, and imbalance. These disorders can have a significant impact on an individual's quality of life, making it difficult to perform daily activities. By performing a comprehensive vestibular assessment, an audiologist can identify the underlying cause of the disorder and develop a personalized treatment plan to improve the individual's balance and coordination.
What does vestibular assessment entail?
Vestibular assessment typically includes a variety of tests, including:
- Starts from detail case history.
- Subjective tests like Romberg test, Fukuda stepping test etc.
- Positioning tests to rule out positional vertigo (BPPV).
- Oculomotor tests
- Dynamic Visual Acuity Test: This test measures an individual's ability to maintain balance while moving their head.
- VNG (Video Nystagmography): This test is used to measure eye movements and assess the function of the inner ear and vestibular system.
- ENG (Electronystagmography): This test measures the electrical activity in the eye muscles and is used to diagnose various inner ear and vestibular disorders.
- Electrophysiological tests like VEMP, ECochG etc.
- Rotational chair test.
In conclusion, balance centers play a crucial role in addressing balance and coordination disorders, such as vertigo, dizziness, and unsteadiness, that affect many people in the general adult and geriatric populations. These disorders can have a significant impact on a person's quality of life, making it difficult to perform daily activities. Balance centers offer comprehensive vestibular assessments, performed by vestibular specialists (audiologists), to diagnose the underlying cause of the disorder and provide personalized treatment plans to improve the individual's balance and coordination. Seeking help from a balance center is important for individuals experiencing symptoms of dizziness, vertigo, or imbalance, to improve their quality of life.