Health Beat - Spring 2020 - 13

and ringing in the ears accompany the
vertigo. Symptoms can last a few minutes to a few hours or more and may
come and go.
Putzier has been treating vertigo
patients like Tomlins for the past 25
years in Salina Regional's occupational
therapy department. Because vertigo
mainly affects people over age 60, she
largely sees an older population, but
she also has treated vertigo patients as
young as middle school age.
"I've had vertigo myself a couple of
times, so I completely understand what
my patients are going through and it's
no fun," Putzier says.
Vertigo has many causes, such as
a change in blood pressure, inner ear
infection, Meniere's disease (an inner
ear disorder), head or neck injury, and
one of the most common causes, benign
paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV).
BPPV is caused by calcium carbonate crystals called otoconia that have
been displaced in the ear canal. These
crystals sit in the inner ear and keep
everything in balance, so when some
of them dislodge and travel into other
areas of the inner ear, it makes everything off balance.

Treating Vertigo
Putzier performs a complete vestibular evaluation on her patients first to
confirm whether they have vertigo. She
uses a diagnostic tool called Frenzel
lenses to detect nystagmus (eye fluttering) and to make note of the direction
and pattern of eye movements, as this
gives her an indication of which ear is
causing the problem.
The evaluation also helps determine
whether the patient has peripheral

Above: Pat Tomlins is relieved to have her
vertigo symptoms under control so she can
get back to doing the things she enjoys.
Right: Occupational therapist Kathleen
Putzier uses Frenzel lenses to detect
nystagmus, or eye fluttering, to
determine which ear might be causing
Tomlins' vertigo.

vertigo or central vertigo. Peripheral
vertigo usually occurs when there is a
disturbance in the balance of the inner
ear, and central vertigo occurs as the
result of a disturbance in one or more
parts of the brain.
Putzier says some patients need
to be seen several times over several
weeks to get their symptoms under
control, while other patients are healed
after just one treatment.
One of the treatments Putzier used
on Tomlins is the Epley maneuver,
which is designed to put the head at
an angle from which gravity can help
relieve symptoms. Tilting the head

For more information about vestibular rehabilitation, call
Kathleen Putzier at Salina Regional's occupational therapy department, 785-452-6787, or Denice Justus at
Salina Regional's Outpatient Physical Therapy Clinic,
785-452-6668. Vestibular rehabilitation is also
available in Lindsborg and Concordia.

can move the crystals out of the semicircular canals of the ear. This means
that they stop displacing fluid, relieving the dizziness and nausea.
In addition to the Epley maneuver, Putzier worked with Tomlins on
exercises including gaze stabilization,
balance and gait training, and fall
prevention education. She also gave
Tomlins head, body and eye exercises
that she can perform at home.
"I can't say enough good things
about Kathleen," Tomlins says. "She
just has a very kind manner with her
patients and is so easy to work with.
She's such a caring person."
Tomlins was relieved to have gotten
her vertigo symptoms under control so
she could get back to doing the things
she enjoys, such as driving, volunteering at her church and participating on
committees at Presbyterian Manor,
where she lives. But more importantly,
she was thankful to be able to spend
Thanksgiving with her family, especially her six grandchildren and six
"I'm truly blessed," Tomlins says. 1

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Health Beat - Spring 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Health Beat - Spring 2020

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