Treating dizziness and balance
Sarah Campbell brings vestibular rehabilitation to Silverthorne
There is a treatment for dizziness: That’s the message Sarah Campbell, PT, DPT, OCS has been bringing to patients at Avalanche Physical Therapy in Silverthorne since 2017.
As a board certified orthopedic specialist in physical therapy, Campbell is also certified in vestibular rehabilitation through the American Institute of Balance. She’s one of the first to offer vestibular rehabilitation in Summit County.
She treats all kinds of dizziness stemming from a variety of factors, but the most common is vertigo, which is often caused by issues in the vestibular system, located in the inner ear. Vertigo makes people feel as if their surroundings are moving (spinning, whirling or tipping), significantly impacting balance.
Age and gender both play a factor in dizziness; most vestibular issues occur after age 50, with women being more prone than men to. However, it’s quite common for younger people, from their 20s on, to suffer from vertigo as well.
A lot of people think they just have to live with dizziness: Their mother and grandmother suffered from it, so they have to, too. But Campbell says: “There’s definitely a lot we can do.”
She starts with an in-depth evaluation and then introduces therapeutic exercises, which may include simple positional drills to training visual reflexes, visual tracking and balance.
Vertigo often stems from how the vestibular system in the inner ear communicates with the brain. Length of treatment varies from patient to patient, but if it’s just a matter of crystals being out of place, it typically only takes two to three sessions. If it stems from improper signals between the brain and vestibular system, treatment may last six to eight weeks, in order to retrain the brain.
Properly treating dizziness prevents complications down the road. Dizziness can lead to falls, which can cause concussions or orthopedic injuries like broken bones or torn ligaments. But what a lot of people don’t realize is how they compensate for dizziness: Many lock their head down or don’t rotate their neck as much, which can cause stiffness and other orthopedic problems.
“Unfortunately, we usually see a person a couple weeks after the dizziness has started, the earlier they get treatment, the better,” Campbell said. “We don’t want people to be less functional.”
In addition to vestibular rehabilitation, Campbell works with orthopedic injuries, post-surgical rehabilitation and injury prevention. She has achieved a masters level in functional dry needling certifications to help patients recover efficiently. She particularly enjoys teaching people how to strengthen their bodies after injuries and other various conditions; she believes a non-surgical approach to treating musculoskeletal conditions is key to returning to an active, healthy lifestyle.
“I’ve always loved anatomy and the puzzle of the human body,” she said. “Physical therapy allows me to spend time with patients and piece things together. Our patients are so great. I just want to get them back to doing what they love.”
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