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 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, auditory system (ear), and facial muscles are a part of your vestibular system.

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

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

With vestibular issues, people will have difficulty distinguishing movements with their neck from movements with their eyes. Patients will have to move their entire body just to look at something instead of turning their head.

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

That’s where Vestibular rehabilitation therapy (VRT) can help.

VRT is 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 show that those with vestibular problems experience significant relief from their symptoms after VRT therapy.

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

The Ultimate Guide to Vestibular Therapy

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Physiotherapy Services & Treatments

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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.

About PainHero

If you’re like most you don’t want to wait days or weeks to get treated for your pain. And you don’t want to have to spend your time calling nearby clinics to find the one who can see you the fastest.

That’s where PainHero comes In – Canada’s largest network of physiotherapists, chiropractors, and registered massage therapists. 

Our Platform is used by clinics where they post their open appointment times. So you can quickly compare availability and wait times for clinics near you without having to pick up the phone. Then book an appointment within seconds and even see someone that day if you want. So you can get back to doing the things you love faster.

Plus unlike other sites who let anyone on or just rely on google reviews. We hand pick clinics based on a 50-point inspection, which includes everything from checking reviews, ratings, reputation, history, complaints, satisfaction, trust, cost, and general excellence.

Why PainHero?

Improve the way your body moves so you can continue to do the things you love. PainHero is Canada’s largest network of physiotherapists, chiropractors, and registered massage therapists. Our mission is to make it easy for you to find the top clinics in your community. We handpick the top clinics using our 50 point inspection based on patient reviews, complaints, and patient outcomes. 

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 you have difficulty focusing.  You see, vestibular problems can affect vision because your eyes 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 visual and proprioceptive systems.

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 love.

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:

  • Side effects of particular medicines
  • Infections in the ear
  • Poor circulation to the ear
  • Debris from particles in the inner ear canals
  • Traumatic brain injury, such as a concussion

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-clinic treatments and a home exercise program.

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

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 temporarily.  This is normal and part of the healing process. 

You can think of it like when you first started working out. Your muscles were most likely 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 try at home. You should consult with a physiotherapist in your area before completing them.

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 a 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. Keep focus on your finger throughout the exercise.

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 a dumbbell or other object 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.

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. The balance exercise below can help improve your ability to walk outside on uneven ground and 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 you can try not holding on to the chair and balancing unsupported. For safety, keep your hand hovering over the chair.  Make sure to do both sides 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 Do You Know if Your Vestibular Nerve Is Damaged?

Key indicators include vertigo, dizziness, balance issues, and nausea.

How Long Does Vestibular Rehab Take?

A Physiotherapist will typically see patients 1-2 times per week for 6-8 weeks. Recovery time depends on the severity of the condition and symptoms.  The success of the vestibular therapy is also very dependent on a 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 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-clinic treatments and at home exercises.

There you have it, the Ultimate Guide to Vestibular therapy. If you have any questions or would like to book a 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 first.

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 perform a movement procedure with your upper body while observing your eye movements.  It’s done to identify any false sense of motion or spinning of the eyes. This can provide the therapist with information as to how your vestibular system is functioning.

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

Book Your BACK NECK SHOULDER KNEE ELBOW HIP WRIST FOOT Pain Consult

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.