Lenora M.

Lenora M.

After a fall in January 2022, retired school teacher Lenora M. of Luzerne had several injuries that she was receiving therapy for at Allied Services in Wilkes-Barre. The fall had left her with compression fractures in her spine that required spinal bracing and therapy. She was also being treated for weakness in her hands. But through it all, Lenora was still suffering from severe bouts of vertigo.

Vertigo, dizziness, and balance-related conditions are among the most common health problems in adults. Nearly 40 percent of U.S. adults experience vertigo at least once in their lifetime, with women slightly more likely to get it than men. And while the cause is unknown in many cases, a great number of cases, including Lenora’s, are caused by a condition called benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV).

Living with Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo
BPPV is the sudden sensation that you're spinning or that the inside of your head is spinning. This spinning can lead to feeling dizzy, nauseous, or even a loss of balance. In people with BPPV, head or body movements — particularly when lying in bed or leaning over — can cause a brief vertigo episode.

“If I would go from a sitting position to lie down, or if I was laying down and I would turn my head - it would usually happen. All of a sudden I would get what I called swimmy head. Just this incredibly awful dizzy feeling. It was horrible.”

After a consultation with an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) specialist, Lenora was referred to Dr. Kristina Dorkoski, DPT, PT, CEEAA, NCS at Allied Services Wilkes-Barre Rehab Center. Kristina holds advanced certifications in vestibular and balance therapy.

Finding treatment for BPPV

“BPPV occurs when tiny calcium crystals called otoconia to come loose from their normal location on the utricle, a sensory organ in the inner ear. If the crystals become detached, they can flow freely in the inner ear, including the semicircular canals - the area that senses the rotation of the head,” noted Dr. Dorkoski.

“The goal of treatment is to move the calcium carbonate particles out of your semicircular canals and back into your utricle. Here, the particles resorb more easily and don’t cause uncomfortable symptoms.”

Dr. Dorkoski and Allied Services physical therapist Cruz Finnicum, PT, DPT, used infrared video goggles to confirm Lenora’s BPPV diagnosis. They delivered a personalized treatment plan that effectively treated the condition in just a few sessions.

“We were able to successfully accommodate her spinal limitations and ensure we were accurate in our repositioning maneuvers using the goggles. In real-time, the video goggles are able to display eye movements associated with where the calcium carbonate crystals are in the affected semicircular canal of the inner ear that is affected. In other words, we use them to diagnose the problem, then make sure we are literally moving them in the right direction during treatment,” reports Dr. Dorkoski.

Preventing Further Falls with Balance Retraining

Lenora had balance problems that put her at risk for another fall. Added to that, she had low balance confidence, which further increases an individual's fall risk. Once her BPPV was cleared, the team proceeded to balance retraining.

“Over the course of her treatment, Lenora was very motivated to improve her balance and walking, and it really paid off. By the time she was discharged from physical therapy, she no longer scored as ‘at risk’ for falls on any standardized tests, and her balance confidence had increased a great deal,” says Dr. Dorkoski.

“I hadn’t been myself for over a year - the fall really changed me,” notes Lenora. “I am extremely independent. A control freak really, and I lost all of that. I lost confidence in who I was and what I could do. I was afraid of everything. I wouldn’t even go up or down the steps if someone wasn’t with me. I would just stand there paralyzed in fear unless someone was with me. So this whole process, and the positive atmosphere they created here - really helped make me feel confident again.”

“They gave me my life back” - Lenora

Vestibular and Balance Therapy at Allied Services

Physical Therapy can be an effective tool in improving balance and reducing fall risk at any age. Certified in providing balance and vestibular rehabilitation services, our team of physical therapists can help patients regain their equilibrium and ability to move without experiencing vertigo, balance problems, nausea, or other symptoms. To learn about vestibular and balance therapy call 570-348-1360 in Scranton or 570-826-3900 in Wilkes-Barre.