Have you ever experienced vertigo? The room spins, you become nauseated and feel as if you will lose balance and fall. These are just a few of the symptoms many patients with vestibular deficiencies will report.
The vestibular system is part of your inner ear and includes your semicircular canals, utricle, and saccule. At the end of the semicircular canals (in the utricle) are crystals (otoconia) that respond to the movement of fluid (endolymph) within the canals. The vestibular system tells the brain where the head is in space and the direction it is going. Along with your eyes and proprioception system, the vestibular system keeps you balanced. Trauma and virus are some of the causes of vestibular deficiencies, but generally there is no known reason.
There are many vestibular deficiencies, but one of the most common is benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV). BPPV is caused by dislodged crystals in the utricle, which float into the canals. This phenomena causes the brain to be unable to detect where the head is in space, prompting the individual to feel dizzy and nauseated. You may not be aware, but BPPV can be treated through physical therapy, usually within 3-4 sessions. There are also home exercises you can learn from your physical therapist to prevent, improve, and rid yourself of vertigo symptoms. The traditional home treatment is the self-Epley’s maneuver which is performed here:
However, there is a new home treatment that has been gaining momentum lately. It is known as the “half somersault” or “Foster maneuver”. This treatment is garnering support for eliminating vertigo symptoms when the self-Epley’s maneuver cannot. A tutorial video on how to perform the maneuver is here:
Both maneuvers work by using the flow of the fluid in the semicircular canals to move the crystals from inside the canals back towards the utricle. When the crystals become stuck on the membrane barrier in the ampulla, the Epley’s and somersault maneuver may not provide enough fluid force to move the crystals back toward the utricle. In this case, it is important to schedule an evaluation with a physical therapist to receive hands on treatment.
BPPV or any other vestibular deficiency can cause many debilitating symptoms. The good news is it is easily treated in the care of a physical therapist, or in the comfort of your own home. Remember, if you are unable to treat yourself, make sure to see a physical therapist.
1) Half Somersault Maneuver. (n.d.). Retrieved November 17, 2016, from
2) Video And Step By Step Instructions. (n.d.). Retrieved November 16, 2016, from
3) T., Watson, M. A., Black, F. O., & Crowson, M. (2016). The Human Balance System.
Retrieved November 17, 2016, from