You may benefit from vestibular rehabilitation if you experience dizziness, imbalance, or vertigo. This type of physiotherapy aims to treat vestibular disorders and improve balance and coordination. Keep reading to learn what vestibular rehabilitation entails and how it can help you regain stability and reduce dizziness.
What is the Vestibular System?
The vestibular system is the sensory system in your inner ear that controls balance and spatial orientation. It consists of three semi-circular canals containing fluid and fine hairs. As your head moves, the fluid shifts, moving the hairs. This sends signals to your brain about your head’s position and movements.
Your brain uses these signals and signals from your eyes and body to understand your body’s position and movements. Together, these systems allow you to walk correctly, maintain clear vision and balance, and sense where you are in space.
What are Vestibular Disorders?
When part of the vestibular system becomes damaged or diseased, it can no longer send accurate signals about your spatial orientation to the brain. This results in a vestibular disorder. Common symptoms include:
- Dizziness or vertigo
- Imbalance or unsteadiness
- Vision problems
Some examples of vestibular disorders include:
- Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) – Dizziness triggered by certain head movements or positions. It’s often due to calcium debris in the inner ear canals.
- Vestibular neuritis – Inflammation of the vestibular nerve, often due to a viral infection.
- Meniere’s disease – Fluid buildup in the inner ear that causes vertigo, ringing in the ears, and hearing loss.
- Vestibular migraines – Dizziness and vertigo associated with migraines.
How Can Vestibular Rehab Help?
Vestibular rehabilitation treats dizziness and balance problems through targeted exercises and movements. It helps to retrain your brain how to interpret signals from the vestibular system.
A physiotherapist will assess your balance, coordination, walking, and spatial orientation. They’ll design an individualized program with exercises to target your specific impairments. Examples of exercises may include:
- Gaze stabilization – Moving your head from side to side while keeping your gaze steady.
- Habituation – Making repetitive movements that trigger dizziness to desensitize your system.
- Balance training – Standing on one foot, walking on uneven surfaces, using balance boards.
- Canalith repositioning – Repositioning calcium debris in BPPV with head movements.
- Strengthening/stretching – Targeted exercises to improve posture, strength, flexibility, and stability.
Vestibular rehab also teaches compensation strategies, like using visual cues for stability. Sessions are progressive and tailored to each patient. Improvements are gradual over weeks or months.
Who Can Benefit from Vestibular Rehab?
Vestibular rehabilitation can help anyone experiencing chronic dizziness, vertigo, or imbalance due to an underlying vestibular disorder. It’s often used for:
- Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV)
- Vestibular neuritis or labyrinthitis
- Vestibular hypofunction
- Meniere’s disease
- Vestibular migraines
- Post-concussion dizziness
Even older adults with general balance impairments can benefit. It may also help in recovery after a brain or head injury.
Seeking Treatment for Vestibular Problems
If you’re struggling with dizziness or balance problems, see your doctor to determine the cause. They may refer you to a trained physiotherapist in vestibular rehabilitation. This personalized therapy can help you regain stability and coordination by retraining your vestibular system and brain.
While improvement takes time and practice, vestibular rehab provides drug-free relief that can significantly reduce dizziness and improve daily functioning. Regaining your balance and confidence in movement is possible.
Visit OAK Physio & Wellness Clinic to learn more about vestibular rehabilitation. Their experienced physiotherapists can evaluate your condition and create a customized treatment plan to get you feeling steady again. Book an appointment today to start addressing your vestibular disorder and take control of your dizziness.