Vestibular Dysfunction

How Does Vestibular Dysfunction Affect the Body?

The human vestibular system includes the parts of the brain and the inner ear that deal with processing and understanding the sensory information that people need to control their eye movements and balance.

Vestibular dysfunction can occur in those individuals who have any type of damage to or condition affecting the nervous system. This can occur because of external and environmental issues, genetic conditions, and other reasons that doctors are unable to pin down. When suffering from vestibular dysfunction, the ability to control the body's center mass is diminished. The body can eventually develop weakness in the muscles and even paralysis in some cases.

Many people suffering from vestibular dysfunction experience the following:

  • Inability to control their movements or prevent certain movements from occurring
  • A limited range of motion
  • Inability to maintain their posture
  • Impairment of overall motor coordination

Some who have vestibular dysfunction will also have positional vertigo. This means that they feel the room is spinning around them and they have no control over it. This is a very common type of persistent symptom that can cause a major loss in quality of life.

Another symptom some may develop is called oscillopsia. This gives the patient the feeling that objects that are actually stationary are moving back and forth, or oscillating. Because of the disorienting affect, many people with this condition can also suffer from nausea and even vomiting.

Diagnosing Vestibular Dysfunction

Those who feel that they may be suffering from some type of vestibular dysfunction should make sure that they speak with a neurologist right away so they can get a proper diagnosis. The doctor will want to know the patient's medical history, as well as whether they have suffered from other similar episodes, motion sickness, drug abuse, diabetes, and a host of other diseases.

Expert neurological specialists will also want to know about all of the current medications the patient is taking to determine if any of those medications are mimicking the effects of vestibular dysfunction. For example, medication that can cause a sedative effect can make balance difficult.

The doctors will then move on to assess the following during a physical exam to check the patient's musculoskeletal structure:

  • Strength
  • Range of motion
  • Vision
  • Reflexes
  • Reflex cancellation

This is done to see whether muscle weakness or dysfunction, rather than vestibular dysfunction, is the cause of the symptoms. During this examination the patient will usually undergo a neurological assessment, as well as a simple balance test. All of these exams and tests will give doctors a better idea of the problem and its extent so that they can help solve it.

Once the diagnosis is made, a course of treatment is discussed. Some of the types of treatments for vestibular dysfunction include changes in lifestyle to avoid certain drugs and medications, physical therapy and exercise, and education on how to stay away from certain types of sensory situations that exacerbate the problem.

Questions? Contact a Sports Neurology expert!

If you are dealing with a legal matter related to vestibular dysfunction, you probably need to get reliable information from a trusted source. As a board certified neurologist with 20 years of experience, I, Dr. Williams, can be the expert witness you need to effectively resolve a legal issue. I would be happy to review the details of your matter during an evaluation to determine how I can help you with my neurological expertise. Contact me today to get started!