Having a strong support system is an important indicator of physical therapy outcomes. A dizzy or unbalanced patient has a difficult road to recovery and having a loved one or paid caregivers to help with their journey can make their progress smoother and faster.
With vestibular physical therapy, we like to say, “More isn’t always more.” What we mean by that if you try to power through symptoms as they arise, you aren’t necessarily strengthening your brain. Instead, your brain goes into a “protection mode” where it is more concerned with surviving the ordeal of intense dizziness, anxiety, and imbalance. When the brain starts to get into this realm, no real neurological reeducation is happening. Instead, it’s best to provoke mild symptoms that abate within 5-15 minutes. This allows the brain to develop strategies and abilities to process provocative stimuli.
So where does the support system come in? The world is full of provocative stimuli for dizzy or unbalance people. They may fatigue throughout the day, so even seemingly small tasks can be extremely difficult. To one of our patients, having someone to help carry in groceries, or do the dishes at the end of the day, or to drive them to and from their appointments can mean the difference between a good day and an overwhelming day.
A caregiver can also help by helping to limit exposure to provocative stimuli. Often our patients tell us that they feel guilty when they can’t do everything that they or their loved ones want to do in a day. If a caregiver says, “Hey let’s take a break,” or, “I think that’s enough for one day,” that allows a patient mental rest without them feeling like they’re always the ones putting on the brakes.
Being a support system varies widely, even something as small as being a sympathetic ear to listen to a loved one as they vent about their symptoms can be greatly valuable. There is a large overlap of anxiety, dizziness, and imbalance. Having a place to express that fear can be emotionally healing.
Are you a caregiver who is feeling worn out? Or are you a patient who feels like you don’t have a support system? Please don’t think that you’re alone in your suffering! There are resources for you, we highly recommend taking a look at the Vestibular Disorder Association (VeDA) at vestibular.org. In addition to VeDA, you can always talk to your clinician at 360 Balance & Dizziness during your next session, we are specially trained to help you and we will work with you to find how best to improve your therapeutic outcomes!