I was well into my career as a physical therapist when I began treating a 40-year-old woman who first came to our clinic being pushed by her husband in a wheelchair. Recently arrived in Kentucky from her native Honduras, she had been experiencing extreme dizziness for six years. Despite a merry-go-round of visits to various doctors, she had been unable to find help.
After being rushed to the emergency room by her husband one day with another bout of dizziness and nausea, she was diagnosed with benign paroxysmal positional vertigo. This condition occurs when calcium carbonate crystals become dislodged and drift into a canal of the inner ear. Because the crystals are not supposed to be there, the canal becomes sensitive to changes in head position and causes dizziness, nausea, and unsteadiness that can lead to falls.