(San Luis Obispo, CA) Precision Physical Therapy and Wellness
The vestibular system covers a small portion of the human body, including parts of the inner ear and brain, yet significantly affects the whole body when it hinders physical movement and cognitive functions.
Vestibular rehabilitation therapy, or VRT, is used to treat patients who have a form of vestibular disease. This is a special form of physical therapy, and includes a range of treatments to address the specific needs of vestibular patients.
Precision Physical Therapy is unique in that both clinics (San Luis Obispo and Avila Beach) treat vestibular disease. At both locations, Precision provides services to treat a variety of diagnoses. Services include a clinical assessment, individualized exercises, vestibular education, as well as exercises to address the common symptoms which include dizziness, lightheadedness, vertigo (a sensation that the room or world is spinning), blurred vision, nausea, sensitivity to light or sound, disequilibrium, rocking, and imbalance.
There are two physical therapists at Precision who are able to treat patients with vestibular disease:Dr. Brianna Darneal and Dr. Heather Hamaguchi. Dr. Brianna Darneal obtained her undergraduate degrees from UC Santa Cruz, and her doctorate of physical therapy from Chapman University. Dr. Heather Hamaguchi completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Pacific, and her doctorate of physical therapy at Azusa Pacific University.
Vestibular disease affects patients’ everyday life by making it difficult to move, change positions, and concentrate, which “can impact a person’s ability to work, read, walk, or participate in recreational activities”, according to Darneal. It is rewarding for Dr. Darneal and Dr. Hamaguchi to work with vestibular patients, as it “helps to increase their safety and quality of life”, says Dr. Hamaguchi.
The Precision physical therapists aim to help steadily improve patients who are suffering from the symptoms caused by vestibular disease. This is achieved by making a customized at-home exercise plan for patients. Similar to regular physical therapy, following the at-home exercise plan is essential for patients to see progress.
Dr. Darneal says that “patients start to see progress within 7-10 days of performing their home exercise program as prescribed”.
In addition, Dr. Hamaguchi says progress is made because “physical therapy can help realign aspects of the vestibular system, if indicated, and can help retrain your body and other systems to improve balance and dizziness”.
Another important aspect of VRT is the educational component. There is a level of anxiety and fear that comes with vestibular disease because of the wide range of symptoms and lack of understanding about the disease. This is why the Precision team focuses on educating the patient about their specific case, what they can expect, and the type of treatment needed to help their condition.
One unique aspect about treating vestibular patients compared to other patients is that “for a vestibular patient to improve their symptoms, we need to exercise their use of the vestibular system which often means that the exercises will make a patient feel dizzy”, according to Darneal. Although this approach seems counterintuitive, this type of treatment is essential because provoking dizziness will challenge the patient’s balance to then later resolve the problem.
The physical therapists at Precision are excited about the opportunities to expand vestibular treatment. Dr. Darneal is looking forward to partnering with local ear, nose and throat providers to provide interdisciplinary care for patients with balance and dizziness impairments, and she hopes to “improve access and awareness of physical therapy as a way to treat symptoms of dizziness and imbalance for patients on the Central Coast”. Dr. Hamaguchi hopes to “spread awareness of how physical therapy and vestibular rehabilitation therapy can be impactful and beneficial in helping patients recover from vestibular disorders”.
About Precision Physical Therapy and Wellness
Precision Physical Therapy and Wellness is a locally owned and operated physical therapy clinic. Precision prides itself on offering a “48 Hour Appointment Guarantee” from a patient’s initial call. All physical therapists are certified to treat a variety of diagnoses and pride themselves on providing specialized care timely and effectively. The mission of Precision is to produce healthy, happy, and engaged patients through proven therapeutic services and evidence-based practice. Precision has two convenient locations: in San Luis Obispo, located at 211 Tank Farm Rd., Suite A (across from Farm Supply), and in Avila Beach at the Avila Bay Athletic Club, located at 6699 Bay Laurel Place. For more information, call (805) 439-3900 and find Precision at www.PrecisionPTW.com and on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @PrecisionPTW.
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