by Nicole Kelly, Physiotherapist
What does vestibular mean?
The term “vestibular system” refers to the system found in the inner ear that is responsible for maintaining balance, coordination and spatial orientation.
Disorders in the vestibular system can lead to symptoms that include dizziness, vertigo, unsteadiness, blurry vision while moving, frequent falls, and headaches. As a result, secondary symptoms like nausea/vomiting, poor concentration, neck tightness/stiffness, decrease in quality of life, anxiety and a sedentary lifestyle can occur.
What is Vestibular Rehabilitation?
Vestibular rehabilitation is a form of physical therapy intended to alleviate both the primary and secondary symptoms that can occur with vestibular disorders. One of the most prevalent vestibular disorders that can be treated is benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV). Other disorders include, but are not limited to, Meniere’s syndrome, cervicogenic (neck-related) dizziness and headaches, post-stroke or brain injury, vestibular neuritis, and age-related dizziness or imbalance.
What to expect?
During your assessment, we may assess the following:
- History and nature of your disorder and symptoms
- Screening for more serious causes of dizziness or unsteadiness
- Evaluation of eye movements
- Postural assessment
- Testing of head motions or position change
- Balance and coordination testing
- Gait assessment
- Neck and shoulder/arm assessment
- Muscle strength and flexibility
The results of your assessment will help your physiotherapist develop a personalized treatment plan. This could include education, eye tracking exercises, balance training, postural strengthening, habituation exercises to help decrease symptoms with certain movements, and strategies that will help you deal with the impacts and symptoms at home and work. In cases of BPPV, canal repositioning maneuvers can be used.
For safety reasons, it is always recommended that you get a drive to your vestibular rehabilitation assessment in case there is an aggravation of your symptoms.