Vestibular Rehab Therapy

Each year nearly 9 million people visit health care professionals for treatment of dizziness. According to the National Institute of Health, about 50% of people over the age of 40 experience dizziness or balance problems at some point in their lives.

Our fall prevention and balance disorder programs diagnose. treat, and rehabilitates individuals with disequilibrium and balance disorders. Balance disorders are treatable and although we cannot reverse the aging process we can reduce your risk of falling.

What is vestibular rehabilitation?

Vestibular rehabilitation therapy is an exercise-based program specifically designed to promote central nervous system compensation of inner ear deficits. Our programs are designed by our physical therapist, who has special certification from American Institute of Balance, to improve balance and reduce dizziness-related problems.

At your appointment, a physical therapist will evaluate your symptoms and review your medical history. Our physical therapist works with the audiology team to hel identify any problems with your balance. The audiologist will determine whether the problem is related to your inner ear while the physical therapist will evaluate your gait (how you walk), neck motion, visual stability, as well as examine other potential problem areas. Based on the findings, a plan of care is developed.

Our program includes:

  • State of the art technology for diagnosing balance disorders.
  • An exercise-based program specifically designed to promote compensation of balance problems.
  • Exercises reduce or extinguish Hallucination of motion and/or strengthen muscles associated with steadiness.

Who benefits from vestibular rehabilitation?

Patients who are typically referred for vestibular rehabilitation therapy are those diagnosed with dizziness, imbalance, vertigo, Meniere’s syndrome, benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV), neck-related dizziness and migraines. Other candidates are patients who have had a stroke or brain injury or who frequently fall.

Common symptoms that can be helped with vestibular rehabilitation include:

  • Dizziness or blurry vision with head movements
  • Neck tightness, stiffness and/or pain
  • Imbalance or the need to hold onto objects when walking
  • Headaches
  • Frequent falls
  • Generalized “dizziness, wooziness and foggy head” feelings
  • Vertigo/spinning

What are some examples of the types of exercises I will learn?

Some examples of exercises you might learn include: vision stability training, posture training, stretching and strengthening exercises, balance retraining, walking, neck motion exercises, and if needed, general fitness exercises. Ergonomic advice may also be given. (This advice is given so that workplace furnishings can be adjusted to improve a person’s posture and decrease any discomforts.)

No two exercise treatment plans are exactly alike. Your exercise program is developed by identifying your deficits. For example: if your symptoms have been linked to an inner ear problem, you will also learn how to do some self-treatment exercises. Continuing an exercise plan at home can help prevent and/or treat new dizziness and balance episodes.

How long is a typical vestibular rehabilitation program?

Some patients may be seen for only 1 to 2 sessions; other patients may need continued treatment for a few months. The therapist makes individualized recommendations based on the needs of the patient, severity of symptoms, and response to therapy.

What type of recovery/outcome can I expect from vestibular rehabilitation?

Expected vestibular rehabilitation outcomes include:

  • Decreased fall risk
  • Decreased dizziness symptoms
  • Improved balance
  • 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. In most cases, if patients continue to perform the exercises they have learned, balance and dizziness problems decrease significantly or completely disappear.

DID YOU KNOW …

  1. Vertigo, according to the National Institutes of Health, will affect 90,000,000 Americans sometime during their lifetime.
  2. Each year, over five million people consult with their doctors with complaints of dizziness, the number one malady for those over 70.
  3. Balance related falls account for more than one-half of accidental deaths in the elderly.
  4. Balance related falls cause over 250,000 hip fractures a year in individuals over 65 years of age.
  5. Some forms of inner ear disorders, such as Meniere’s disease, benign positional vertigo, perilymph fistula, and endolymphatic hydrops, have symptoms which are virtually indistinguishable to most people. Because imbalance and vertigo can affect a person’s ability to stand and walk, to see clearly, to read, to watch television, to make decisions, and to think clearly;  diagnoses are sometimes confused with multiple sclerosis and clinical depression.
  6. Children with treatable vestibular disorders are sometimes incorrectly diagnosed as learning disabled, dyslexic, or psychologically disturbed.
  7. Blows to the head and whiplash are frequent causes of imbalance, dizziness, and ear infections, such as otitis media, can also lead to vestibular disorders.

The good news… is that diagnosis and treatment have been changing dramatically over the last ten years, and now there is much hope for many who once thought there might be no relief.