Vestibular Rehab

What is Vestibular Dysfunction?

Vestibular dysfunction is a disease that can cause balance related problems such as dizziness. It can range in severity from lasting just a few seconds to being a chronic disease that causes total incapacitation. Vestibular dysfunction means that there is a problem with the inner ear and the sensory processing that accompanies it. Because this is is such a broad definition, there are many different causes and consequences of vestibular dysfunction.

Three most common vestibular disorders are paroxysmal vertigo (BPPV) and vertigo. BBPV is a form of vertigo that is thought to be caused by calcium deposits within the inner ear.

Dizziness, loss of balance, and lightheadedness may be symptoms of vestibular dysfunction. Vertigo is described as the feeling of the body rotating related to space or space rotating around the body. This is different from dizziness, light-headedness or loss of balance that are also related to vestibular dysfunction.

Symptoms of a Vestibular Disorder

  • Dizziness
  • A sense that surroundings are spinning or moving (Vertigo).
  • Unsteadiness, difficulty walking straight, lack of coordination
  • Nausea or motion sickness
  • Lightheaded, floating or rocking sensation
  • Difficulty walking in the dark

What is Vestibular Rehabilitation?

Vestibular rehabilitation is a specific type of physical therapy designed to address the unique problems of patients who suffer from vertigo, dizziness or a sense of imbalance. A therapist will provide testing to help determine the cause of dizziness.  Treatment may include repositioning for the crystals in the ear or assisting other systems in the body to help compensate for vestibular problems

At New Horizons, our therapist has been specially  trained to diagnose and treat vestibular disorders, as well as balance disorders. Vestibular rehabilitation helps those experiencing dizziness and balance problems originating from the vestibule of the inner ear. The vestibule, along with vision and sensation, are the three systems used to maintain balance. When problems occur in one of more of these systems, the result is dizziness or a balance disorder. Vestibular rehabilitation uses physical therapy techniques to treat vertigo and balance disorders with success rates as high as 90 percent.

Who Can benefit from vestibular treatment?

  • Anyone who suffers from Vertigo, dizziness or a sense of  imbalance
  • Anyone who has had a stroke, head injury or concussion, a history of inner ear problems or diabetes.
  • Anyone who experiences dizziness or balance problems after a neck injury.
  • Elderly individuals who are more likely to develop a balance problem due to decreased reaction time and movement speeds, medicines that damage the inner ear and other  conditions that affect balance
  • Anyone suffering from neurologic disorders (stroke, brain injury, multiple sclerosis).

How Can Physical Therapy Help?

Physical therapy intervention may help with dizziness, loss of balance, or other vestibular disorders by habituating the senses to tolerate the stimulus, by correcting orthopedic or reflexive deficits that contribute to the dysfunction.

How Do I Participate?

Screening is typically done by a neurologist specializing in Otolaryngology; though your general practitioner may be the first person you report symptoms to. Following a doctor's evaluation, you may be referred to a physical therapist that specializes in vestibular dysfunction.

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