Vestibular rehabilitation therapy (VRT) is a specialized exercise-based program that is used to alleviate problems that occur as a result of a vestibular, or balance, disorder. Our vestibular physical therapists are extensively trained to utilize VRT to improve balance and reduce other problems related to dizziness. Patients who can benefit from individualized vestibular rehabilitation include those diagnosed with:
- Dizziness (Persistent Postural-Perceptual Dizziness, Cervicogenic Dizziness)
- Meniere’s Disease
- Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV)
- Vestibular migraines
- Vestibular Hypofunction
- Vestibular Neuritis
- Acoustic Neuroma
- Mal de Debarquement
- Perilymph Fistula
- Falling due to neck/brain injuries or stroke
What are Vestibular Disorders?
Vestibular disorders occur when age, disease, or injury affect the complex and delicate balance system between the brain, inner ear, and eyes. When vestibular dysfunction presents, the brain eventually compensates over time by using the body’s other senses. For patients whose symptoms continue to affect their ability to perform daily activities, VRT can be utilized to achieve compensation and stability.
The exercised-based therapy is designed to reduce symptoms such as:
- Blurry vision associated with head movement
- Gaze instability
- Falls and imbalance
- Neck pain, tightness, or stiffness
What Causes Dizziness?
Dizziness, while typically not a serious problem, can be a debilitating and uncomfortable symptom of an underlying medical problem. Dizziness encompasses feelings of unsteadiness, lightheadedness, wooziness, whirling, and spinning. These sensations may occur when standing still, changing positions, or lying down and can be constant or episodic, lasting from a few seconds to several hours.
Causes of dizziness can include:
- Inner ear disorder
- Motion sickness and/or sensitivity
- Neck dysfunction
- Poor circulation or heart problem
- Brain problem
Treating Vestibular Disorders with Physical Therapy
Our physical therapists will start by evaluating your symptoms and medical history to create an individualized plan to help improve your ability to participate in everyday activities, as well as your quality of life. Assessments may include:
- Leg strength and flexibility
- Neck mobility and strength
- Inner ear health
The goals for each targeted exercise plan will depend on each patient’s unique problems and can include:
- Cawthorne-Cooksey exercises: These techniques involve neck and shoulder relaxation, gaze and balance training, coordination improvement, and development of vestibular compensation.
- Gaze stabilization exercises: The aim of this treatment is to improve vision as well as the ability to focus on stationary objects while the head is in motion.
- Canalith repositioning procedures (CRP): These exercises are used to treat benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) by utilizing head maneuvers to move displaced crystals (otoconia) back into their proper position.
- Brandt-Daroff exercises: This alternative BPPV treatment focuses on vestibular compensation through the movement of displaced crystals.
Habituation, gaze stabilization, and balance retraining are often incorporated with stretching and strengthening exercises to achieve the most optimal results. If you are experiencing symptoms of a vestibular disorder, please contact our office to learn about the physical therapy options available to help regain your stability.