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OMC Vestibular Rehabilitation Therapy Provides Dizziness Relief

OMC Vestibular Rehabilitation Therapy Provides Dizziness Relief

By Stacy Tintocalis, Freelance Writer

Last December JoDee Ramseur of West Plains woke up so dizzy and sick that she couldn’t even focus her eyes. “It felt like a cloud or fog in my brain. It took an hour in the morning to just get up.”

The dizziness went on for two weeks. She saw her general practitioner but the problem was hard to pinpoint. At first her provider thought JoDee had stones in the vestibular tubes of her inner ear. JoDee was referred to Ozarks Medical Center (OMC) Rehabilitation Services for a series of tests for balance and eye control performed by physical therapist Greg Peugh. Those tests concluded that JoDee did not have vestibular stones.

Her provider then diagnosed JoDee with vestibular neuritis, a disorder caused by inner ear inflammation of a branch of the vestibulocochlear nerve. Vestibular neuritis results in vertigo, dizziness, balance difficulties, nausea, vomiting, and concentration difficulties.

“It left me with limited balance on the left side,” JoDee explained. “It made it so I couldn’t see well out of one eye along with other symptoms.”

What came next surprised her. JoDee didn’t require medication or surgery to treat her dizziness. Her provider sent JoDee back to OMC Rehabilitation Services and Greg Peugh. She simply needed to learn some exercises.

Yes, exercises. JoDee began a regimen of Vestibular Rehabilitation Therapy (VRT), a type of physical therapy for the brain that includes eye exercises and balance exercises. Greg had JoDee work on exercises in the OMC Rehabilitation Gym and at home.

“The physical therapist trains the brain to take over balance for the other side, retraining everything,” JoDee said. “It’s very difficult with your eyes, and it has a lot to do with your vision.”

At first, when JoDee began physical therapy exercises to regain balance and eliminate dizziness, she wasn’t convinced that it would work. “I didn’t have much faith,” she admits, “but Greg completely retrained my brain to compensate. Gradually, it got better and better, and then I graduated!”

The exercises that Greg had JoDee perform included gaze stabilization exercises. In one such exercise, JoDee fixated on an image for several minutes while repeatedly moving her head back and forth or up and down. Balance training exercises were also performed to improve steadiness.

“At first, Greg’s exercises were so hard to do that I’d just fall over,” JoDee said. “He’d have to hold me the whole time I was doing them. You’re training the opposite side of your brain to compensate for the side that doesn’t work anymore.”

It took five weeks. JoDee went twice a week for a full hour of physical therapy with Greg. At home, she did at least an hour of exercises a day.

“After the second week, I started noticing things getting better,” JoDee said. “Every week I could see the light at the end of the tunnel, and I could see I was going to get my balance back.”

“Thank goodness my doctor knew about vestibular rehabilitation and knew where to send me!” JoDee said. “I’ve met people who tell me, ‘My grandma put up with vertigo for years and years!’”

Greg Peugh, MPT, AIB-VR, is certified in Vestibular Rehabilitation by the American Institute of Balance. Greg has been a physical therapist at OMC Rehabilitation Services for 17 years. His specialty area is with patients with dizziness, vertigo, balance deficits, and vestibular problems including Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV), which is the most common diagnosis. He has treated hundreds of patients with BPPV, some having symptoms for up to 40 years, and has been able to help patients get rid of their dizziness in just a few sessions.

Now that JoDee has completed her therapy, every now and then she still experiences symptoms if she turns her head a certain way. “But now it immediately goes away,” she said. “Before, if I turned my head wrong, I’d go off balance and fall.”

“It may take a year to be completely free of this,” JoDee said.

“If I hadn’t gotten my therapy, I don’t know that I would have gotten better. I think I would have had to deal with it, and it would have been very difficult. Now I can ride my bike again. Before, I couldn’t even balance on a bike. The therapy just put me back to normal. Without therapy, I don’t know that I would ever be normal again.”

Looking back, JoDee said, “I think this was a wonderful and life-changing experience, especially at the beginning to how I am now. It’s just amazing. Greg was the best! I would advise everyone who has a problem like this to seek treatment. Get better so you can get on with your life.”

If you are interested in learning more about overcoming vestibular disorders, vertigo, dizziness or balance difficulties, contact OMC Rehabilitation Services at (417) 257-5959. OMC Rehabilitation Services is located in the Shaw Medical Building at 1111 Kentucky Avenue in West Plains.

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