Injuries with GyroStim
There have been injuries with GyroStim where conditions have been made worse. The most common injury is the neck. Imagine if you will, going on a roller coaster, and after you are strapped into your seat you are handed a 10 pound bowling ball to hang onto while you ride. That is essentially what is happening in the GyroStim chair. Your head can weigh around 10 pounds. The forces of swinging it around can sprain or injure the facet joints in your neck.
‘Funny story’, I treated a 9 year old boy with headaches and dizziness following repeated roller coaster rides with his older brothers. When evaluated in our community the recommendation was to try GyroStim. He did not get better but worse. His mother was told that they were treating a positional vertigo problem. I cannot but wonder at the medical decision making that went into this diagnosis and treatment. An evaluation months later at the Mayo Clinic determined that this young man had an underlying condition of a Chiari Malformation. The roller coaster ride injured his neck and indirectly caused eye muscle trigger points and limited binocular vision. This was the cause of his dizziness. His Chiari Malformation had reduced his overall functional margin. Another ‘roller coaster’ was not the answer in this case.
Claims that the GyroStim can help with symptoms other than vertigo and balance, however, are not plausible. Existing evidence suggests that the benefits of these types of interventions do not extend beyond the tasks themselves. There is no global brain-training. Training in a task, for example, improves performance on the task, but not general performance. -SN
Here are my thoughts on GyroStim. Based on the clients I have treated that have undergone GyroStim treatment there are in some cases an immediate reduction in dizziness with improved vision. What the mechanism is I am not sure. This may be related to a vestibular rehabilitation type activity or an otolith crystal being shoved further into the canal thus causing less abnormal stimulation of the cupula or balance sensing organ.
My challenge to the GyroStim community is to research how often and frequent treatments should be. Maybe one or two are enough? If that is the case why are people subjected to 6 weeks of treatment when their symptoms resolved on the first session? Is a home program of exercises as or more effective as GyroStim treatment? Randomized control trials and comparative treatment research needs to be conducted.
The GyroStim is, essentially, automated vestibular therapy. In this regard it is nothing new. The open questions are – is it as or more effective than standard vestibular therapy, and is it cost effective? It’s very expensive, and so the cost-effectiveness question is not trivial. -SN
Does it work and is it better?
Second, improved screening of patients with neck injuries should be part of the pre-treatment decision prior to recommending GyroStim.
Remember our 9 year old young man from earlier? He got better with conservative treatment to restore his ability to move his neck and improve his binocular vision. His symptoms resolved and brain surgery for his Chiari Malformation was avoided.
The GyroStim is nothing more than automated vestibular therapy. Before it is mass produced and incorporated into medical treatment, it needs to be tested to see if it is safe, effective, and cost effective for conditions that are already treated by standard vestibular therapy. -SN