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The I'm 'Just' Dizzy Podcast
The I'm 'Just' Dizzy Podcast
Bridgett Wallace, PT, DPT

How can we feel balanced in a world that never stands still? The I’m 'Just' Dizzy Podcast is your ultimate resource for conquering dizziness and living a balanced life – physically, spiritually, and emotionally. The title is a reminder that no one is “just dizzy.” You, your loved ones, a co-worker, a neighbor – someone in your life has most likely experienced disabling dizziness or who limits their daily activities due to fear of falling. This podcast gives you access to experts in the field and real-life tools to bring tangible changes in a safe community. Let’s work together to raise awareness and understanding for overcoming and conquering the challenges while living with dizziness and balance problems.

In this podcast episode, we explore the concept of the startle response—our body’s natural reaction to perceived threats, which is a testament to our nervous system’s efficiency. This automatic survival mechanism, part of the sympathetic or fight-or-flight response, serves us well in emergencies but can become problematic if constantly activated without recovery, especially in dizziness or vertigo.

The fear of vertigo or falling can keep individuals in a perpetual state of alertness, contributing to feelings of unsteadiness and anxiety. Clinical observations have noted that this heightened state can cause an exaggerated response to minimal stimuli, akin to a baby’s Moro Reflex, indicating an overloaded nervous system.

The podcast also touches on the role of our central and peripheral visual fields, governed by the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. It highlights how a narrowed focus on the central visual field, often a coping strategy for dizziness, can inadvertently impair our “rest and digest” parasympathetic response and visual-spatial processing, leading to maladaptive behaviors that affect our physical, emotional, and cognitive well-being.

We also examine the evolution and contemporary implications of the startle response—once vital for survival but now triggered by the overwhelming influx of information in modern life. Dr. Walter Cannon first described the fight or flight response in 1915, a concept expanded by Dr. Donahue in 2020 to include “freeze” as a response to acute stress. Recent studies, notably a 2022 University of Bristol research, highlight the cerebellum’s central role in coordinating this freeze response. This “little brain,” comprising only 10 percent of brain volume, houses up to 80 percent of the brain’s neurons and is crucial for maintaining balance, coordinating movements, and facilitating new motor skills.

Beyond its physical functions, the cerebellum significantly influences emotions and decision-making in stressful situations. For healthcare professionals specializing in dizziness and imbalance disorders, understanding the cerebellum’s function is essential for effectively diagnosing and treating these conditions. Dysfunction within this intricate network can lead to prolonged freeze responses, affecting eye movement and timely stepping, which are critical for navigating our environment safely.

Our rehabilitation approach aims to integrate these reflexes, helping patients recognize their presence without self-judgment. We’ve provided resources to assist in this process, including a handout with activities designed to merge the startle response and an eye movement exercise to facilitate the transition from a sympathetic to a parasympathetic nervous system state.

Below is a link to a video on reintegrating the Moro reflex and directories for professional support for those experiencing overwhelming anxiety or suicidal thoughts. Remember, seeking professional advice is a step toward understanding and managing your symptoms more effectively, ensuring that you’re supported throughout your health journey.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

  • CLICK HERE to access a video on a stretch to integrate the Moro Reflex.
  • The Suicide Prevention Hotline in the US is available 24/7 at 988
  • Online directories include Psychology Today, Good Therapy, and Better Health.

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Handouts