When she started experiencing dizzy spells several years ago, Nancy Hupp immediately feared the worst.
“I thought, ‘Oh my gosh! This is probably a brain tumor,’” said the 75-year-old woman who was caring for her ailing husband at the time.
Nancy went to her primary care physician, who diagnosed her with benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV), a vestibular condition triggered by certain changes in the inner ear and head position. Although it is not life threatening, BPPV can impact daily activities and increase the risk of falling, which poses additional concerns for adults over 65.
“I was scared about getting in and out of bed or accidentally falling into the wall and hurting myself,” Nancy said. “I had to take things very slow.”
Upon assessment of her condition, Nancy’s doctor referred her to Lisa Rohrbaugh, DPT, Certified Clinical Vestibular Therapist. With more than 25 years of experience in vestibular and neurological rehabilitation, Lisa is also the Lead Therapist at the ARC Physical Therapy+ Lenexa clinic.
“When I first saw Nancy, she had been experiencing acute vertigo and dizziness,” Lisa said. “We identified the problem and treated it quickly so she could get back to her regular activities.”
At the time of Nancy’s first therapy session, Lisa was practicing at another location, but Nancy knew Lisa was the one to call when her symptoms returned in 2020. So, she contacted ARC Physical Therapy+.
“I had a few episodes again in February, and I knew I needed to get to Lisa at ARC Physical Therapy+,” she said. “I immediately called the Lenexa clinic, where Lisa was practicing a few blocks from my house. They called my doctor to get approval and got me in right away.”
Nancy’s experience included a thorough evaluation and an assessment of her condition, immediate treatment for BPPV, as well as training for balance-related issues and postural stability deficits, which often accompany vertigo.
“When someone feels dizzy, like Nancy did, they often exhibit problems with their balance,” Lisa said. “In addition to addressing each patient’s dizziness, we also make sure to address their balance and gait safety in order to prevent falls or further injury.”
While treatment is presently very effective, Lisa says it’s not unusual for positional vertigo to recur.
“When that happens, Nancy calls us and we get her in for treatment as soon as possible,” she said.
Reflecting on her experience, Nancy wants others to know how important it is to seek treatment early.
“I look back at my first episodes and think about how scared I was that something might really be wrong with me,” she said. “The fear magnifies everything, and you begin to think the worst, but you can’t delay because these things don’t go away on their own. Know that you’ll be in good hands at ARC.”
Lisa echoes those sentiments.
“Positional vertigo or BPPV is one of the most common vestibular conditions, but it is just one of many,” she said. “It’s important to get a thorough evaluation of what’s causing your dizziness early on so you can receive an individualized treatment plan and get back to doing the things you enjoy.”
The therapists at the ARC Physical Therapy+ Lenexa clinic specialize in vestibular rehabilitation, neurological/balance rehabilitation and concussion management, as well as traditional physical therapy.
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