Vestibular rehabilitation is a specialized form of physical therapy that focuses on the treatment and management of disorders related to the vestibular system, which is responsible for maintaining balance and spatial orientation. The vestibular system includes the inner ear and its connections to the brain.
Vestibular rehabilitation is a form of therapy that can benefit people with a range of vestibular (balance system) disorders. Typical candidates for vestibular rehabilitation include:
This means the vestibular system in the inner ear is not sending enough information to the brain about head and body movements. Causes can include infection, aging, head trauma, or ototoxic medications.
This causes sudden, brief episodes of vertigo triggered by certain head positions or movements. It’s caused by debris in the inner ear.
Vestibular migraine involves migraine symptoms like headache, nausea, light sensitivity, as well as balance problems, and dizziness.
These are inflammations of the vestibular nerve or inner ear structures that disrupt balance signals to the brain.
The goals of vestibular rehabilitation are to promote gaze stability, retrain balance and movement coordination, decrease dizziness symptoms, and help the brain compensate for vestibular dysfunction. The rehabilitation uses targeted exercises, canalith repositioning for BPPV, sensory integration therapy, balance and gait training, and more to help regain stability, reduce symptoms long-term, and improve functioning.
During vestibular rehabilitation, a physical therapist with expertise in this area will assess and address issues such as dizziness, vertigo, imbalance, and problems with coordination and spatial awareness. The therapy sessions may involve a combination of exercises and techniques that are specifically designed to target the vestibular system. These exercises can help to strengthen the vestibular system, improve its coordination with other sensory systems (such as vision and proprioception), and enhance the brain’s ability to process and adapt to sensory information.
Vestibular rehabilitation is a personalized treatment approach tailored to each individual’s needs and goals. The duration and frequency of therapy sessions will depend on the severity of symptoms and the progress made during treatment. However, there are some general timelines for different conditions:
For conditions like vestibular neuritis or labyrinthitis, the acute stage may require 1-2 months of therapy for recovery. The exercises help the brain adjust and adapt to the vestibular dysfunction in this early stage.
With canalith repositioning maneuvers, most BPPV cases can be fully resolved in 1-3 sessions over a couple weeks.
For ongoing balance problems due to aging, vestibular hypofunction, or neurological issues, therapy may take 2-6 months depending on severity. Unique programs are customized for the individual’s needs.
By addressing vestibular-related issues, vestibular rehabilitation can help individuals regain their balance, reduce dizziness and vertigo, improve coordination, and enhance overall quality of life. It is important to consult with a healthcare professional, such as a physical therapist or an otolaryngologist, to determine if vestibular rehabilitation is appropriate for your specific condition.
At Synergy Health Partners Physical Therapy, our experienced physical therapists will work with you to overcome balance issues and dizziness through a customized rehabilitation plan. Therapy techniques may include any of the following exercises:
These exercises focus on improving visual stability and reducing symptoms of dizziness or vertigo that occur with head movements. They typically involve following a moving target while keeping the head still or moving the head while maintaining gaze on a stationary target.
This involves exercises that challenge and improve a person’s balance, coordination, and postural control. It may include standing on uneven surfaces, performing single-leg stance exercises, or practicing dynamic movements that require balance.
These maneuvers are used to treat benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV), a common vestibular disorder. They involve specific head and body movements to reposition displaced calcium crystals within the inner ear, relieving symptoms of dizziness and vertigo.
These exercises aim to improve the brain’s ability to adapt to conflicting or abnormal sensory input. They may involve activities that challenge the visual and vestibular systems simultaneously, such as walking while reading or focusing on a moving object.
In essence, vestibular rehabilitation bolsters the skills and systems needed for stable balance, clear vision, fluid movement, and orientation – leading to greater safety, independence, and quality of life. Some of the main benefits of vestibular rehabilitation include:
Vestibular rehab focuses on exercises and movements that challenge and improve the vestibular system’s role in balance and equilibrium. This leads to better stability.
By retraining the brain’s pathways for balance, vestibular therapy can significantly minimize troublesome spinning sensations (vertigo), lightheadedness, and unsteadiness.
With improved balance control, coordination, posture and stability, patients are less prone to debilitating and dangerous falls after vestibular rehab.
Exercises that develop gaze stability retrain the eyes to fixate properly when the head is moving. This improves clear vision and reduces oscillopsia symptoms.
Balance and gait drills reestablish proper walking patterns, weight shifts, navigation, and general ease of movement. Confidence with mobility often improves too.
Fluid movement and balance relies on integration of multiple sensory systems, so vestibular therapy strengthens cognitive skills. Attention, concentration and spatial awareness tend to improve.
Symptom reduction along with increased mobility and independence provide psychological benefits as well. Patients tend to feel more confident and engaged.
At Synergy Health Partners our skilled team of physical therapists in Michigan specializes in comprehensively refining vestibular rehabilitation through specialized treatment planning and therapeutic techniques. We are now treating in 3 convenient locations in Livonia, Warren, and Shelby Township. Schedule an appointment today to start your rehabilitation journey and regain your confidence.