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How Technology is Improving Physical Therapy

by Cory Ash, PT

As a physical therapist who treats patients in an outpatient clinic setting, I’m aware how fortunate we are to live in a time when patients have more direct access to physical therapy than ever before. This also means that physical therapists are sometimes the first clinicians to evaluate patients suffering from dizziness, imbalance and vestibular dysfunction.

RehabVisions Dickinson recently invested in infrared video goggles to provide a more thorough evaluation and add value to the entire physical therapy experience for our patients.

Patients who benefit from infrared video goggle diagnosis

Infrared video goggles can be helpful for patients with a variety of conditions including concussions, Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), Multiple Sclerosis (MS), vestibular neuritis, and Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV), a common inner ear issue that causes vertigo and imbalance.

We often see patients for vestibular issues. These patients suffer from unsteadiness and a loss of balance. Additional symptoms can develop including lightheadedness, dizziness, nausea and vomiting.

In these cases, patients are suffering from balance issues that can affect their quality of life or ability to perform at work.

How infrared video goggles work

When patients put on infrared video goggles, they see complete darkness. By removing a patient’s ability to inadvertently fix their gaze on any visible objects nearby, the therapist can clearly view any nystagmus or abnormal movement in the eyes.

Cameras located within each lens of the goggles emit an infrared light to illuminate the patient’s eyes. These images are then displayed directly on the therapist’s laptop. This helps us to examine eyes in a relaxed state to more accurately determine where the patient’s issues are originating from.

More about BPPV

BPPV is one of the most common causes of vertigo – that sudden sensation that you or your surroundings are suddenly moving. About fifty percent of elderly people who complain of dizziness are likely suffering from BPPV. It is usually triggered by specific changes in head position. Symptoms are very short in duration, typically lasting less than one minute. Very small crystals called otoconia become dislodged from the utricle and find their way into the semi-circular canals of the ear – where they are not supposed to be.

While not life-threatening, BPPV can increase chance of falls, which can be detrimental to an older patient’s quality of life.

Infrared video goggles help diagnose BPPV because the direction and duration of the abnormal eye movements tell the therapist which ear and which canal the otoconia have landed. The therapist then will be able to treat the problem by utilizing the ideal repositioning maneuver.

As new technologies continue to emerge in physical therapy, we see improved outcomes and better patient compliance to treatment plans. RehabVisions strives to offer the highest skills and best-available technology to our patients.

Investing in infrared video goggles and other innovative technologies gives our therapists new opportunities to improve diagnoses, increase patient engagement, and facilitate a safer, faster return to normal activities.

To learn more about infrared video goggle technology, call RehabVisions at 701-483-9400. The highly skilled therapists at our clinic who are trained to use this specialized equipment look forward to helping you live your best life.


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