Vestibular Rehabilitation Therapy is a specialized form of Physical Therapy used to treat vestibular disorders or symptoms, characterized by dizziness, vertigo and trouble with balance and vision. These symptoms can also result in nausea, fatigue and lack of concentration. The term Vestibular refers to the inner ear system and its fluid-filled canals that allow for balance. Vestibular dysfunction can exist unilaterally, affecting only one side of the body, or bilaterally, affecting both sides. Vestibular Rehabilitation exercises can be used to treat dizziness, difficulty with vision with head movement, and trouble with balance.
Examples of Vestibular exercises and treatments include:
Canalith repositioning treatments to move debris in the inner ear out of the fluid-filled canals in order to treat vertigo.
Habituation exercises that provoke dizziness but then help the brain adapt to the stimulus and reduce dizziness.
Gaze stabilization exercises aim to train vision during head movement by looking at targets and moving the head back and forth.
Balance-training exercises are designed to improve the ability to stay upright and reduce the likelihood of falls.
The ultimate goal of Vestibular Rehabilitation Therapy is reduction of vertigo, dizziness, gaze instability, poor balance, and dangerous falls.
Approximately 35 percent of adults over age 40 have experienced some form of dizziness and for patients over 75 years of age, dizziness is the No. 1 reason for visiting a physician.
Dizziness is a significant risk factor for falls, and falls have been estimated to be the leading cause of serious injury and death in persons older than 65 years of age.
Why do I have dizziness?
Dizziness can have many different causes. The vestibular system of the inner ear signals the brain about movement and head position. Your brain interprets these signals with those received from your eyes, muscles, and joints. When any part of the vestibular system malfunctions dizziness can occur.
How do I find treatment for dizziness and what can be done to treat it?
Diagnosis and treatment of Dizziness is not always clear and is not always a vestibular disorder. Vestibular disorders and symptoms can affect a person in many ways and are often unpredictable varying from person to person. If you have dizziness, imbalance, or vision changes, you may have a vestibular disorder. A physician or appropriate health care professional can provide the appropriate screening and diagnostic testing to direct you for treatment.
What is Vestibular Rehabilitation Therapy (VRT)?
Vestibular rehabilitation therapy (VRT) is a type of physical therapy that helps train the central nervous system to compensate for vestibular dysfunction. Studies examining the effect of VRT strongly demonstrate its effectiveness in decreasing symptoms of dizziness and imbalance.
Are there exercises I can do to help my dizziness?
Vestibular exercises should only be done after proper diagnosis and performed as prescribed by a Physical Therapist. All vestibular disorders are not the same. An exercise that will help one person can actually increase someone else’s symptoms.
What medications are prescribed to reduce dizziness?
Medication can be short-term strategy to treat dizziness to help dampen symptoms, but medication can also make it more difficult for the brain to learn to compensate for vestibular dysfunction. For the acute stage of dizziness, medication is sometimes prescribed by a physician to reduce severe symptoms. Speak to your physician about recommended medications based on your symptoms.