BALTIMORE - This outstanding Orioles' season has included a number of notable comebacks.
In June, first baseman Ryan Mountcastle was placed on the injured list because of a battle with vertigo.
Dr. Adam Kaufman, an ear, nose and throat physician at the University of Maryland Medical Center, provided insight into how vertigo impacts a person, especially a professional baseball player.
Putting bat to ball on a pitch thrown 95 mph requires elite vision and reflexes. Same goes for fielding a ball that can move at well over 100 mph.
Imagine having that supreme vision and coordination taken away by a mysterious sense of dizziness and imbalance, an inner ear disorder called "vertigo."
"Inside the ear are these little, tiny crystals that kind of help you understand where you are in space," Dr. Kaufman said. "When you turn your head, they move and they tell your brain you're moving. That's how you keep track of where you are in space. If the crystals get dislodged, they can get dislodged for a variety of reasons: dehydration, head trauma, or just old age, they can get dislodged and give you a sense of motion when you're standing still. The crystals just get knocked out of place."
Vertigo knocked Mountcastle off the field and into uncertainty, not knowing how he got it or how long it might last.
"In the throes of it, it feels like it's never going to end and you are just going to be like this forever, but with proper care and proper treatment, you really can return to as high level as you were beforehand," Dr. Kaufman said.
Mountcastle endured a month of recovery that included medication and movement therapy.
After returning, from what he said was the longest time he's ever been away from the game, he returned with a vengeance.
He embarked on a torrid hitting streak that indicated he was not only back, but at his best.
WJZ's Mark Viviano asked Mountcastle about his appreciation for baseball now after having had it taken away.
"Yeah, for sure," Mountcastle said. "Mentally and physically going through that was not fun at all. Definitely took its toll on my body and my thoughts and stuff, so just to get through it, I'm just super blessed."
Mountcastle's teammates also appreciate his comeback and marvel at his return.
"I see a guy who's healthy and he was probably able to work on some things when he was coming back from vertigo," Orioles outfielder Austin Hays said. "And mechanically, he's in a really good place right now. He's just driving the fastball to the other side of the field. When he gets a hanging breaking ball, he's doing damage both sides."
It is common for the general population to experience any range of the vertigo symptoms.
Dr. Kaufman said the majority of cases are treatable and not recurring.
"I've done a little research, I guess it can come back, but I pray for the best and right now feel good and just trying to keep it going," Mountcastle said.
Mountcastle is batting .276 with 17 home runs and 60 RBIs. His Orioles (77-47) have the best record in the American League.
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