Everything You Need to Know About Vestibular Rehabilitation
Vestibular rehabilitation therapy is a highly specialized form of physiotherapy that helps patients to manage dizziness and balance issues. It focuses on treating and managing vestibular disorders and related conditions.
Vestibular rehabilitation is effective in treating or managing a range of conditions, including:
- Inner ear disorders
- Balance disorders
- Meniere’s disease
- Traumatic brain injury
- Falling risk
With time and consistency, individuals suffering from balance- or dizziness-related issues can greatly improve their quality of life through vestibular rehabilitation.
Understanding How Vestibular Rehabilitation Works
To understand just how vestibular rehab works, you need to first understand the underlying conditions.
Spatial orientation refers to the act of a person’s brain calculating the position of their body in relation to their surroundings, and dizziness occurs when something impacts a person’s sense of spatial orientation. When spatial orientation is hindered in some way, the individual feels woozy, lightheaded, and unsteady.
Balance relies on the relationship between an individual’s central nervous system and their sensory system. This sensory system includes the vestibular labyrinth in the inner ear, vision, skin, joints, and muscles. Normally, the central nervous system receives information from the sensory system in order to instruct the body on how to maintain balance. When something interferes with that connection, the central nervous system is unable to process that information correctly and as a result, the individual will experience balance issues.
A physiotherapist will seek to treat vestibular function directly whenever possible, though there are some cases where it’s not possible to restore vestibular function. This happens particularly when the patient’s vestibular function has been impacted by serious injury or illness.
When direct vestibular healing is not an option, vestibular rehabilitation works to teach the patient’s body to compensate for their diminished vestibular capabilities. Vestibular rehabilitation therapy will train the body to rely on the sense of sight and somatosensory abilities to counteract the dizziness or imbalance caused by vestibular deficiency. This is similar to how a blind person would rely on their hearing to navigate, or how a deaf person might use their sight to read lips.
What to Expect from Vestibular Rehabilitation Therapy
Vestibular rehab begins with an evaluation. You may need to visit an audiologist for tests to establish how well the vestibular part of your inner ear is functioning. A physical therapist will test to evaluate your balance, your gait, and your strength and flexibility.
Each patient’s therapy will look different, as balance issues and dizziness are caused by different sources and impact individuals in different ways. Your physiotherapist will tailor your vestibular rehab therapy to your specific needs.
The exercises may involve eye movement control, balance retraining, stretching, strengthening, and more. Your physiotherapist will also teach you specific exercises that you will be able to perform in your own home, at your convenience.
A person’s vestibular rehabilitation program is also dependent on their particular needs and circumstances. Treatment may require as little as one or two sessions, or it may involve months of ongoing treatment. Most patients find success with six to eight weekly sessions.
After successfully completing vestibular rehabilitation therapy, patients report reduced symptoms and increased quality of life. Specific benefits include:
- Reduced risk of falling
- Improved balance
- Reduced dizziness
- Improved ability to stabilize vision
- Increased body strength
Are you suffering from imbalance, dizziness, or a related condition? Vestibular rehabilitation therapy may be the right choice to help you manage or eliminate your symptoms and regain a higher quality of life. Contact us at Meadowlands Physiotherapy today to discuss how vestibular rehabilitation could help you.