Vestibular Therapy

Vestibular Rehabilitation is a treatment method focused on diminishing dizziness and balance problems resulting from vestibular disorders. It is estimated by the National Institutes of Health, that more than one-third of the population will report bouts of dizziness at some point in their lives. Common sources of vestibular or balance disorders include inner ear problems, whiplash, head injuries, strokes, viruses or diseases affecting the central nervous system, and high doses or long term use of certain prescribed medications.

Vestibular Therapy is provided by a physical therapist with training in the treatment of vestibular and balance disorders. Therapy is based on the concept that the very movements that make the patient dizzy can eventually relieve the symptoms through repetition. Although the condition causing the dizziness may be permanent, the use of compensation mechanisms and exercises to retrain the brain can help overcome the symptoms.

The physical therapist will evaluate an individual’s:

Experiences of dizziness
Balance and coordination
Range of motion
Functional strength
Gaze accommodation

Based on the findings of this evaluation, a treatment strategy is developed for the patient and may include:

Balance retraining exercises
Vestibular habituation exercises
Eye exercises
Positioning maneuvers for benign positional vertigo
Conditioning exercises
Strengthening exercises
Instruction in the use of mobility aids
Instruction in a home exercise program
Fall recovery techniques

Treatment sessions are generally scheduled two to three times per week for six to eight weeks. A regimen of home exercises is key element to the success of this treatment intervention. The patient’s response to therapy is closely monitored and the exercise program is revised as improvement is demonstrated.