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Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 1991 Jun;72(7):473-6.

Behavioral treatment of dizziness secondary to benign positional vertigo following head trauma.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, Western State Hospital, Staunton, VA 24401.


Benign positional vertigo (BPV) represents a challenge to rehabilitation due to the subjective nature of the complaint of dizziness, frequent failure of pharmacologic intervention, and complicating psychologic factors. Behavioral therapy was used to treat a 26-year-old woman who complained of debilitating dizzy spells after mild head injury sustained in a motor vehicle accident. During a three-week baseline period before treatment, the patient reported a weekly average of 48 dizzy spells, which prevented participation in independent activities and kept her homebound and psychologically distressed. Nine-week behavioral treatment included biofeedback-assisted relaxation training, psychologic counseling, gaze-fixation practice, desensitization exercise, and generalization training. This protocol has been used successfully to train aviators to combat vertigo and nausea in flight. Our regimen included hourly recording of physical activity, notation of frequency of dizzy spells, and use of behavioral methods during nine weeks. The patient reported 90% reduction in dizzy spells and full resumption of independent activities including driving and athletics. Results are discussed in the context of behavioral problems associated with BPV and application of behavioral methods to the complaint of dizziness.

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