A stroke is a serious medical condition that reduces or restricts the blood flow to a particular area of the brain. A stroke is a medical emergency that requires immediate medical attention, in the long term there may be lasting effects of the stroke. These effects will be dependent on the area of the brain that suffered the stroke.
Dizziness post stroke is most common in a posterior circulation stroke. This effects the brainstem area of the brain which controls balance among a list of other autonomic (involuntary) bodily functions. If the brain stem has been damaged by the stroke, dizziness symptoms can persist. Vestibular rehab can help teach the body new ways of controlling the balance and regulating the dizziness.
The symptoms of post stroke dizziness include:
Sensitivity to Busy Environments
Loss of Balance
Symptoms tend to be worse in busy or visually stimulating environments (such a as a pub, shopping centre or grocery store) but can also persist in bed at night. Post Stroke Dizziness can be debilitating for the patient for a number of reasons; it can reduce independence with everyday activities, increase the risk of falls, exacerbate the chronic effects of the stroke and cause secondary depression/anxiety in patients. Post stroke dizziness can be described as vertigo. Although technically not, these symptoms can seem similar to the patient.
Through a comprehensive history and a series of tests a list of vestibular dysfunctions due to the stroke will be determined.
Once the balance systems effected by post stroke dizziness have been identified, the vestibular dysfunctions can be addressed. This will include improving vestibular ocular reflexes and cancellations, resetting the vestibular system so that it can process the balance sensations correctly and improving functional balance and re-establishing confidence in daily activities.
Your physiotherapist will also provide you with specific exercises to restore the balance to the vestibular system so that your sense of orientation and the stability of your vision improve and you feel more confident in your balance.
It is important to note that at Vestibular Rehab we do not treat the chronic physical effects of stroke, we aim to treat the vestibular issues post stroke to help improve balance, reduce dizziness symptoms and the risk of falls. All other effects of the stroke should be treated by a neurological physiotherapist.
After the Session:
You may feel an instant change in your symptoms. Your physiotherapist will provide a structured program with exercises to complete at home. Many patients will see a significant improvement in their symptoms after treatment. On average patients will find significant resolution to their symptoms following three to four sessions, however a longer term treatment plan may be required.