Vestibular rehabilitation (VR) is a specialized form of therapy intended to alleviate both the primary and secondary problems due to vestibular disorders. It is an exercise-based program primarily designed to reduce vertigo and dizziness, reduce gaze instability, and/or reduce imbalance and fall risk as well as address any secondary impairments that are a consequence of the vestibular disorder.
For most people who have a vestibular disorder, the deficit is permanent because the amount of restoration of vestibular function is very small. However, after vestibular system damage, symptoms can reduce and function can improve because of compensation. This occurs because the brain learns to use other senses (vision and somatosensory – body sense) to substitute for the deficient vestibular system. For many, compensation occurs naturally over time, but for patients whose symptoms do not reduce and who continue to have difficulty returning to daily activities, VR can assist in recovery by promoting compensation.
What Types of Problems Benefit From VRT?
Patients typically referred for Vestibular Rehabilitation have been diagnosed with a vestibular condition including:
- Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV)
- Vestibular Neuritis/Labyrinthitis
- Unilateral Vestibular Hypofunction (UVH)
- Vestibular Migraine
- Persistent Postural Perceptual Dizziness (PPPD)
- Mal de Debarquement (MDD)
- Cervicogenic Dizziness
- Post Concussion Syndrome (PCS)
- Neurological conditions (i.e. stroke, traumatic brain injury)
- Recurrent Vestibulopathy
Is Vestibular Rehabilitation Therapy Right for Me?
In order to determine if VRT is appropriate for you, we recommend scheduling an assessment with one of our Vestibular Physiotherapists.
In your initial appointment, your physiotherapist will take a detailed history of your symptoms and review any relevant medical history. Your assessment may also include other objective evaluations including:
- Visual stability
- Oculomotor function
- Standing balance
- Stability with walking
- Neck mobility and tenderness on palpation to various structures in your neck
- Inner ear positional testing, including infra-red goggle testing
Based on the findings of your assessment, your physiotherapist will determine if you are an appropriate candidate for VRT. The goal of your treatment plan will be to improve any deficits that were identified in the assessment. This, in turn, will help to improve your daily symptoms and your ability to function in activities of daily living.
How Do You Do Vestibular Rehabilitation Therapy?
VRT exercises are not difficult to learn but require consistency by the patient to achieve success. We often recommend the exercises be performed 2-3 times in a day, which can be tedious or difficult to incorporate into a busy schedule. We often suggest that our patients set up a regular schedule so that the exercises can easily be incorporated into daily life. The exercises may, at first, make symptoms seem worse. But with time and consistent work, symptoms should steadily decrease until they are completely relieved. I often use a weight lifting analogy: when you first start lifting a certain amount of weight, it is difficult and your muscles are sore after your workout. But, over time, the weights become easier to lift and your muscles hurt less over all. It is then that you are ready to progress to lifting heavier weights, or — in the case of VRT — performing more complex vestibular exercises.
What are the types of exercises I will learn in a vestibular rehabilitation program?
Vestibular rehabilitation exercises can typically be divided into three categories
- Gaze Stabilization
- Balance Training
How Do I Get Started With Vestibular Rehabilitation Therapy?
Currently, we are offering vestibular assessments virtually where a customized vestibular rehabilitation exercise program can be developed and taught to you over video chat by a registered vestibular physiotherapist. Call (254) 20 440 1349 (254) 791 399 103/4 (254) 780 888 823 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or to set up an appointment.