Vertigo on rise: physiotherapist

A P.E.I. physiotherapist is reporting an increase in the cases of vertigo and urging those afflicted by lose of balance to seek treatment.

A P.E.I. physiotherapist is reporting an increase in the cases of vertigo and urging those afflicted by loss of balance to seek treatment.

Vertigo is often triggered by an illness or injury and can appear to cause the room to spin as well as induce severe nausea.

Shelley Mokler-Clark, a physiotherapist at Charlottetown Physiotherapy, said vertigo can be serious and alarming to the sufferer.

"Some of these people are sick and nauseated every day for months and months and months, and it's very hard thing to bear," she said.

"I've had patients who've come in to see me who've had to give up a job, who are basically secluded from the rest of society. They don't go out to exercise, they don't go to public places, they don't even go out into grocery stores, because they have so many triggers."

Mokler-Clark said patients are relieved when they find out they do not have a brain tumour or stroke. The vertigo is caused when crystals in the inner ear break off and become lodged in one of the ear's internal tubes. That blocks the flow of fluid and interferes with your sense of balance. 

A series of simple exercises can dislodge the crystals to get the fluid moving again and restore balance, Mokler-Clark said.

She said she gets two or three referrals a week from physicians.

Geri Gallant is undergoing therapy for vertigo. She lost  her sense of balance after a car accident in the spring and did not know what was wrong with her.

"I was experiencing a problem with balance, almost to the point where I was staggering," she said. Gallant also had eyesight and hearing problems. She has been taking physiotherapy for a couple of months both at the clinic and on her own at home.

"There's an amazing difference. It's still a work in progress, but [I've come] a long way to improvement. Big improvement," she said.

"Usually within a month or less than that, we usually see total clearance of the actual crystals and back to a normalized kind of lifestyle," Mokler-Clark said.

She noted that vertigo has other causes and so people experiencing dizziness should first consult their doctor.


  • An earlier version of this story said there was a physiotherapist specializing in vertigo working at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Charlottetown. That person has been re-appointed and there is currently no physiotherapist specializing in vertigo at the hospital.
    Oct 12, 2013 6:54 AM AT