Vestibular rehabilitation is a specialized form of therapy designed to help individuals who experience problems with their balance and inner ear function. The vestibular system, located within the inner ear, plays a crucial role in maintaining our balance, coordinating eye movements, and providing us with a sense of spatial orientation.
When the vestibular system is affected by injury, disease, or other conditions, it can lead to symptoms such as dizziness, vertigo (a spinning sensation), imbalance, and difficulty with coordination. These symptoms can significantly impact a person’s quality of life, causing limitations in daily activities and increasing the risk of falls.
Vestibular rehabilitation aims to address these symptoms by utilizing a multidisciplinary approach. It involves the expertise of healthcare professionals such as physical therapists, occupational therapists, and audiologists who specialize in treating vestibular disorders. The therapy is tailored to each individual’s specific needs, as the underlying causes and symptoms can vary greatly from person to person.
During vestibular rehabilitation, the therapist will conduct a comprehensive evaluation to assess the individual’s symptoms, functional limitations, and overall condition. Based on this assessment, a customized treatment plan is developed. The therapy may include a combination of exercises, manual techniques, and balance training to gradually improve the individual’s balance, reduce dizziness, and enhance their overall ability to perform daily activities.
At your appointment, a physical therapist will evaluate your symptoms and review your medical history. Your assessment will include all or part of the following areas:
Balance and/or leg strength/flexibility
Gait (how you walk)
Visual stability and mobility
Neck mobility and neck and arm strength
Positional testing, including an inner ear exam
What type of recovery/outcome can I expect from vestibular rehabilitation?
Expected vestibular rehabilitation outcomes include:
Decreased risk of falling
A decrease in dizziness symptoms
Improved ability to stabilize vision/gaze
Increased body strength
Return to prior level of movement/function
Increase in confidence in ability to maintain balance
Improved neck motion, reduced symptoms
How successful is vestibular rehabilitation therapy?
Many times, vestibular rehabilitation therapy will be the only treatment needed. Other times, it is a part of the pre surgery / post surgery treatment plan. In most cases, if patients continue to perform the exercises they have learned, balance and dizziness problems decrease significantly or completely disappear.