Vestibular Rehab

The Role of Vestibular Rehabilitation in Physical Therapy

Vestibular rehabilitation is a specialized area of physical therapy that focuses on addressing issues related to the vestibular system – a combination of structures in the inner ear responsible for balance and spatial orientation. This unique form of therapy plays a crucial role in helping individuals regain stability, reduce dizziness, and improve overall function.

Understanding Vestibular Rehabilitation

Vestibular rehabilitation is a specialized form of physical therapy designed to address symptoms arising from vestibular disorders. These disorders can result from various conditions, including inner ear infections, head injuries, or age-related degeneration. The primary goals of vestibular rehabilitation are to enhance the brain’s ability to adapt to changes in the vestibular system, improve gaze stability, and minimize symptoms such as dizziness, vertigo, and imbalance.

Vestibular Disorders That Respond Well to Physical Therapy Treatment:

  • Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV)
  • Menier’s disease
  • Migraine Associated Vertigo (MAV)
  • Motion sensitivity
  • Post-concussion syndrome
  • Vestibular neuritis/labyrinthitis
  • Other musculoskeletal or neurologic disorders result in balance or dizziness problems.

Vestibular rehabilitation therapy is an exercise-based program designed to promote central nervous system compensation for inner ear deficits. A licensed physical therapist will be able to offer a variety of initial services to all patients experiencing dizziness and balance deficits.

Common Symptoms

  • Vertigo: The perception of movement/spinning, either of the self or the environment
  • Dizziness: General term that describes light-headedness, floating sensation, or faintness
  • Imbalance: Disequilibrium is a feeling of being off-balance or a loss of equilibrium

Uncommon Symptoms

  • Nausea
  • Blurred vision
  • Anxiety
  • Lack of coordination
  • Difficulties with memory and concentration
  • Headaches/neck pain

How Do You Know If You Need Vestibular Therapy?

80% of older adults over the age of 65 have experienced dizziness with 50% being due to Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV).

  • Do you feel unsteady?
  • Do you lose your balance and fall?
  • Do you feel like you are falling, the room is spinning, or get dizzy when you lay down?
  • Do you feel like you are moving when you are standing or sitting still?
  • Do you feel light-headed?
  • Do you have blurred vision?
  • Do you feel disoriented, such as losing your sense of time or where you are?
  • Or if you’re being diagnosed with BPPV, labyrinthitis, vestibular neuritis, or Menier’s syndrome. Migraine-related dizziness, cervicogenic dizziness.

What to Expect from Vestibular Physical Therapy?

Our goal for vestibular physical therapy patients is to decrease feelings of vertigo and dizziness, improve balance, posture control, gaze stability, overall endurance, and conditioning, and increase safety.

We use exercises that provide small, controlled, and repeated “doses” of the movements and activities that provoke dizziness to de-sensitize and fine-tune the brain. Physical therapists provide comprehensive Balance and Vestibular Rehabilitation. They perform specific treatment protocols for specific diagnoses, with a focus on alleviation of symptoms and return of function. Treatment for vestibular rehabilitation may include, but is not limited to:

  • Patient Education
  • Home Exercise Program
  • Repositioning Maneuvers
  • Habituation Exercises
  • Balance Exercises
  • Conditioning Exercises
  • Functional Activities

For more information about vestibular disorders, consult our physical therapist to explore the potential benefits of vestibular rehabilitation and embark on a path toward improved stability and vitality.