A vestibular disorder is an inner ear balance disorder. A healthy individual usually takes his or her sense of balance for granted. Most individuals do not find it hard to walk in sand, step onto the sidewalk from a grass area, or get up in the morning without stumbling.
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Vestibular disorders are relatively common following trauma to the neck or head, including whiplash. Many times, vestibular disorders accompany mild traumatic brain injuries. Vestibular disorders can cause many of the same symptoms associated with mild traumatic brain injury, including teh following: dizziness, vertigo, imbalance, problems with hearing, nausea, fatigue, concentration, anxiety, depression, headaches, slurred speech, trouble focusing, sensitivity to light, poor depth perception, and night blindness. Symptoms may become obvious days or weeks after the trauma has occurred; however, in many cases, symptoms can be subtle so they may not be fully appreciated for months following trauma.
Doctors use the medical history and findings from a physical examination as a basis for ordering diagnostic tests to assess the function of the vestibular system and to rule out alternative causes of symptoms. These diagnostic tests are designed to evaluate the function and structure of the inner ear and/or brain, and they include hearing evaluations because the hearing and balance functions of the inner ear are closely related. A general physical examination of the ears, head, and neck should be done with special emphasis on tests of balance function. Additional testing is often recommended such as hearing tests, CT Scans, MRI scans, electronystagmography (ENG), and blood tests, with the frenzel goggle test considered the “gold standard” in the diagnosis of vestibular disorders. In some situations, referral to an ear specialist (otolaryngologist) or neurologist specializing in the inner ear (neuro-otologist) may also be necessary.
Vestibular disorders can deeply affect an individuals daily functions, ability to work, social relationships, and quality of life. According to the Vestibular Disorders Association, the type and severity of symptoms can vary significantly. People with vestibular disorders may be unfairly perceived as inattentive, lazy, overly anxious, or seeking attention. They may have trouble reading or doing simple arithmetic. Functioning in the workplace, going to school, performing routine daily tasks, or just getting out of bed in the morning may be difficult.
If you or a loved one are experiencing symptoms of vestibular disorder due to trauma from a car accident or other form of accident, please contact an experienced Wisconsin Vestibular Disorder Attorney.
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