The Semont Maneuver to Treat BPPV

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If you have developed dizziness and spinning sensations that occur as you move your head or change positions, then you may be suffering from benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV). This is a common cause of vertigo, and it can limit your ability to move around normally due to severe spinning sensations.

What is BPPV?

Benign paroxsymal positional vertigo is caused by tiny calcium crystals that are in your vestibular system in your inner ear.

When these crystals move to an area where they do not belong, they interact with nerves that communicate information to your brain about your head and eye position. This interaction of calcium crystals, called canaliths, and the vestibular nerves cause the vertigo and dizziness that is the hallark sign of BPPV.

Correct treatment involves helping to reposition the canaliths to help abolish your dizziness.  Treatment may also focus on strategies to help you prevent future problems with your BPPV.

If you have BPPV, there are a few things you should do right away. First, don't panic. Most symptoms of BPPV can be treated in a relatively short time period. A visit to your doctor is in order as well to be sure your dizziness is not caused by some other problem.

Your doctor may recommend you visit a physical therapist to help you treat your BPPV. Your physical therapist can assess your situation and prescribe the correct treatment and exercises to help you resolve your vertigo.

Performing the Semont Maneuver

The Semont maneuver is one specific treatment that your physical therapist may use to help treat your BPPV. It is a simple procedure to help reposition the canaliths in your vestibular system. Once the canaliths are where they belong, your vertigo should subside.

Your physical therapist will perform the Semont maneuver with you to ensure it is done properly and to make sure you remain safe during the procedure.

This is what you can expect during the Semont maneuver:

  • Sit on the edge of a treatment table or bed.
  • Your physical therapist will assess if your left or right vestibular system is affected by the BPPV. He or she will they manually turn your head about 45 degrees away from the affected side.
  • Your physical therapist will then quickly lie you down on the side that is affected by your BPPV. You should be looking up at the ceiling once your PT lies you on your side.
  • This position may cause dizziness. You should remain in the sidelying position until your symptoms resolve.
  • Your physical therapist will then move you up into the sitting position and then quickly over to your affected side. Your eyes should now be looking towards the floor.
  • This position may cause slight vertigo. Again, remain in the sidelying position until the vertigo passes.
  • Your physical therapist will then guide you back up into the seated position.

After the Semont maneuver is performed, you should try to remain upright for a few hours.

Your PT may ask that you sleep with your head propped up on a few pillows to help you remain upright overnight.

The Semont maneuver is used to reposition the calcium crystals in your vestibular system. If successful, your vertigo symptoms should be clear rapidly within a day or two. If they remain, your PT may choose to have you perform a different exercise called the Epley maneuver.

Sometimes both the Semont and Epley maneuvers are not fully effective in relieving your symptoms. Your physical therapist may prescribe Brandt Daroff exercises to help treat your BPPV. These exercises are not intended to reposition the calcium crystals in your vestibular system. Rather, they are used to help your body habituate and compensate for your BPPV.

If you have dizziness and vertigo caused by BPPV, you may benefit from a visit to a physical therapist for treatment. He or she may utilize the Semont maneuver to help you eliminate your dizzy symptoms and return to your previous level of function quickly and safely.

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