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Balance Disorders Program

What is Dizziness?

Some people describe a dizziness problem by saying they feel dizzy, light-headed, floating, woozy, unsteady or have a sense of disequilibrium.

What is Vertigo?

Some people describe their balance problem by using the word vertigo, which comes from the Latin verb "to turn." They often say that they, or their surroundings, are turning or spinning.

About the Southcoast Balance Disorders Program

Our sense of balance is maintained by a complex interaction of the inner ear, the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord), eyes, joints, sensor receptors and muscles.

If a problem with any part of the balance system occurs, one or two symptoms may appear — dizziness or vertigo. Because there are many possible causes of vertigo and dizziness, it is necessary for your doctor to perform a medical evaluation to determine a diagnosis whenever possible.

To assist physicians, Southcoast Rehabilitation Services of Southcoast Hospitals Group offers a Balance Disorders Program which provides comprehensive diagnostic tests and treatment in an outpatient setting. Depending on your diagnosis, balance rehabilitation therapy is a treatment method that can alleviate balance problems.

Physical Therapy Evaluation

A physical therapy evaluation is often performed along with audiology testing. If indicated by the evaluation results, the physical therapist will develop an exercise and balance program that has been customized to meet your needs.

Your physician may order a variety of tests depending on your history and symptoms. Each test contributes distinct, specific information that is combined to help establish an appropriate approach to therapy.

Audiological Evaluation and Treatment

Since the auditory mechanism is responsible for hearing and balance, a series of tests looking at these two areas are performed. The series of tests begin with a basic hearing assessment. Another common test is an ENG (Electronystagmography). During this exam, electrodes are taped near the eyes to carefully monitor eye movements. A portion of this test stimulates part of the balance system of the inner ear.

Follow-Up Care

Once a diagnosis is determined, a range of treatments are available that have been proven safe and effective in controlling disorders with underlying dizziness and vertigo.

Surgery is rarely necessary, but may be considered in some cases. Follow-up visits and repeat testing are important if your symptoms persist or change.

Balance problems are symptoms, not a medical diagnosis. It is necessary for a doctor to perform a medical evaluation. A careful history of your symptoms is most helpful in finding the cause of your problem. Always notify your doctor if you experience increased headaches, any change in vision, slurring of speech, motor weakness or any loss of consciousness.

Don't let a balance problem interfere with your life and career. Call your doctor and ask if the Southcoast Balance Disorders Program is right for you. The Balance Disorders Program is offered at the following locations:

Durfee Union Mills
283 Pleasant Street
Fall River, MA 02720

Southcoast Brain & Spine Center
480 Hawthorn Street
Dartmouth, MA 02747

Tobey Rehab
1 Recovery Road
Wareham, MA 02571

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