Vestibular Therapy

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What is Vestibular Therapy?

Most people have never heard of the vestibular system even though it’s the most important system in your body for controlling balance. 

It consists of part of your inner ear which detects head position and movement as well as other parts of our brain that communicate together to tell our body where we are in space. 

Even your vision and auditory system (ear), and facial muscles all make up your vestibular system.

The vestibular system is critical for controlling balance, posture and movement when walking.

The problem is when your brain is not receiving the correct information from the vestibular system it throws off your balance and ability to hold your posture.

Then your body will start to compensate by increased hip swaying to maintain balance.

This is when the patient has to move their entire body just to look at something instead of turning their head.

Which can cause stiffness in the muscles, constant fatigue, neck pains, headaches, and body aches.

That’s where Vestibular rehabilitation can help.

It’s a specialized form of therapy to help relieve the symptoms caused by vestibular disorders.  This therapy helps your brain compensate for disorienting signals coming from the vestibular system by relying on other signals from other systems in your body to maintain balance. 

It’s done by using specific vrt exercises to help your brain relearn to recognize the correct signals from other systems of your body.

Does vestibular rehabilitation work?

In fact, 39 studies involving 2442 patients with vestibular problems experienced significant relief from their vestibular symptoms after VRT therapy.

Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5954334/

The Ultimate Guide to Vestibular Therapy

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This appointment is your opportunity to tell us what hurts and discover whether vestibular therapy is a good fit for you! During this session, you will talk with a therapist on a phone call (or online) and create the right care plan specifically for your pain. There is no obligation, this session is only to find out if vestibular therapy can help you getting back to doing the things you love in life.

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Whether you’re seeking pain relief or preventative care, you can expect our patient-centric approach to be new and different from any healthcare experience you’ve had before. Perhaps even life-changing.  

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The Ultimate Guide to Vestibular Therapy

When Your Vestibular System Is Not Working Properly These Symptoms Can Occur

Dizziness:  when you feel lightheadedness, faintness, or unsteadiness.

Imbalance:  troubling balancing.

Vertigo: feels like the world around you is spinning.

Tinnitus: abnormal ringing, hissing, whistling, buzzing, or clicking sounds in both ears.

Hearing loss: a common symptom for vestibular problems is reduction in the ability to hear sounds

Nausea and motion sickness

Vision impairment – where objects seem to be moving or difficulty focusing.  You see, vestibular problems can affect vision because your vision and vestibular system are tightly connected to stabilize vision.

What Can I Expect After Completing Vestibular Rehabilitation?

The goal of Vestibular therapy is to retrain the brain to recognize the correct signals from your brain including the information from your vision and proprioception.

Benefits of vestibular therapy include:

  • Decrease in your dizziness symptoms
  • Ability to focus and concentrate better.
  • Improved balance when you sit or stand.
  • Reduced risk of falling causing serious injury.
  • Enhanced ability to track and focus on objects close or far away.
  • Improved range of motion in your neck and less stiffness and pain.
  • Decrease in involuntary eye movements.
  • Increased confidence to perform your daily living activities and hobbies you loved before.

Check out this post from Pillars of Wellness to learn more about Vertigo and Vestibular Balance Disorder (Read the caption)

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Find out whether vestibular therapy can help you get back to doing the things you love in life. 

The Common Causes of Vestibular Balance Include:

  • Medicines
  • Infections
  • Poor circulation to the ear.
  • Debris from calcium in the inner ear canals
  • Traumatic brain injury

Common Injuries Successfully Treated with Vestibular Therapy

What Happens In Vestibular Rehab?

During vestibular physiotherapy, your Physiotherapist will first perform a thorough evaluation to uncover the root cause of your problem.  They will analyze your balance, posture, and eye movements. After a complete assessment is done the therapist will create a customized treatment plan that includes at the clinic and home exercise program.

Most of the exercises your therapist will give you are related to body movements, head, and eyes.

Vestibular Rehabilitation Therapy is simple to do but the key to success is consistently doing them. It’s recommended to perform the exercises 2-3 times per day for best results. Many people will find that when they first start performing these vestibular exercises their symptoms worsen.  This is normal and part of the healing process. 

You can think of it like this when you first started working out your muscles were sore the next day. But over time your muscles adapt and hurt less.  It’s a similar process with vestibular exercises.

Now it’s best to have a customized treatment plan however here’s some vestibular exercises you can do at home.

One of the most effective treatments of BPPV, courtesy of Aquatic Centre Physiotherapy

How Do You Do Vestibular Therapy at home?

Eye Exercises

Keep your head still in neutral position. Then look to the right side then to the left side.

Next hold your finger out at arm’s length. Then look at your finger and bring it toward your nose then back out again.

Head Exercise

Stand up and move your head up then down, then side to side. Keep your eyes open.

Now close your eyes and repeat the same movement above but with your eyes closed.

Sitting Exercise

Sit down with an object or dumbbell straight out in front of you holding it with one arm. Next while focusing on the object turn your head at a 45 degree handle left to right.

Next, sit on your bed or chair. Twist your upper body only to the left and then to the right. Then place an object out in front of you and reach down and pick it up while returning to an upright position.

Now turn left to place the object behind you. Then turn to the right to pick the object with your right hand.

Balance Training

Balance rehabilitation exercises are used to help patients get back to doing daily activities, work, and physical activities. This balance exercise below can help improve your ability to walk outside on uneven ground. Also help with navigating your environment in the dark.

Here’s how to perform it: 

Place a chair to your side and put one hand on the top of the chair then balance on one leg. If that is not too hard then just use your fingers on the chair while balancing on one leg. If that’s easy, use just 3 fingers tips or just your thumb. Once that is easier then don’t hold on to anything and balance.  Then do your next side so everything is balanced.

Your Physiotherapist will have you perform more balance exercises like above to get you back to doing as many activities as possible as you did before.

Vestibular Therapy courtesy of Eagle Ridge Aquatic Centre Physiotherapy Clinic (Read the caption)

How Long Does Vestibular Rehab Take?

A Physiotherapist will typically see patients 1-2 times per week for 6-8 weeks. However it depends on the severity of the condition and symptoms.  The success of the vestibular therapy is dependent on patients adherence to the therapy. 

Is Vestibular Rehabilitation Therapy Right For Me?

In order to determine if VRT would be beneficial for you we’d recommend you schedule a free consultation with one of Painhero’s Physiotherapists by using the search box on this page.

During your initial appointment, your Physiotherapist will get a detailed history of your symptoms and medical history. The assessment can include:

  • Visual stability
  • Oculomotor function
  • Testing your balance while standing.
  • Walking stability
  • Neck mobility and neck pain.
  • Inner ear positional testing.

After all of this they will then create a customized treatment plan to get you feeling better. It will include in person at the clinic and at home.

There you have it, the Ultimate Guide to Vestibular therapy. If you have any questions or would like to book a free consultation just use the search box somewhere on this page to find a certified vestibular therapist near you.

Frequently Asked Questions

Many insurances do cover it however it’s best to check with your insurance company to see if your insurance covers it.

Some people’s symptoms may get worse after vestibular therapy. The reason this happens is because your brain is trying to sort out these new patterns of movements.  Once your brain adjusts your symptoms should not get worse.

A Doctor might recommend the following tests to diagnose your particular balance disorder:

Hearing test – difficulties with hearing can be connected with balance problems

Posturography test – this tests a patient’s ability to maintain their balance while standing.  It measures 3 sensory inputs at one time to identify which one of the sensory inputs are dysfunctional. These sensory inputs are vestibular (your inner ear system), Somatosensory (ankles, joints, feet), and vision (eyes).  Your body uses all three systems to maintain balance. 

Dix-Hallpike maneuver – this is when a Physiotherapist will rotate your head in different motions while observing your eye movements.  It’s done to identify any false sense of motion or spinning.

Rotary chair test – where you sit in a computer controlled chair that analyzes eye movements.

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Vestibular therapy is one of several possible methods for relieving pain that do not rely on prescription medications and all the side effects and baggage they come with. Not to mention that most drugs can only mask pain, but rarely address root causes. Find a clinic if you are suffering from muscle tightness, soreness, or pain to improve your quality of life, today.