Vestibular rehabilitation is an exercise program used by physical therapists to help patients improve balance and reduce the complications of dizziness. A physical therapist will evaluate your symptoms and review all aspects of your medical history to design a plan for rehabilitation.
The therapist will focus on any potential problems, such as issues with your balance, your gait, the motion associated with your neck, and your visual-based stability. Immediately following the physical therapist’s evaluation, a care plan will be developed. The purpose and intent of this care plan is to take measures that will improve the identified deficits. The care plan will include vestibular therapy.
Ideal Candidates for Vestibular Therapy
There are several different types of ideal candidates that will benefit from vestibular therapy. Individuals that suffer from the following will reap numerous rewards from this form of therapy:
- Imbalance Issues
- Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo
- Meniere’s Syndrome
- Neck Problems
- Those Who Fall Frequently
- Stroke Patients
- Patients with Brain Injuries
Length of Therapy and Outcome
The length of physical therapy for dizziness may be as little as one to two weeks, or as long as several months. The amount of time that you will need to take the therapy will depend heavily upon your needs, the severity of the symptoms that you experience, and how you respond – as an individual – to the therapy. The outcome of the therapy will be one or more of the following:
- You will find that you fall less frequently
- You will experience far less dizziness
- Your balance will become improved
- You will experience improvements in stabilizing your vision and your gaze
- Your body will become stronger
- You will find that it is easier to move and function
- You will experience fewer complications when it comes to moving the neck
- You will find that you have higher levels of confidence when it comes to maintaining balance
Common Vestibular Treatments
Vestibular therapy involves the use of exercises that aid in decreasing the symptoms of disequilibrium and other types of dizziness associated with vestibular-based pathology – which means “disease or disorder”.
The most common neuro-ontological treatment approach for the management of the symptoms is to prescribe medications that are known to suppress the vestibular-based functions of the body.
This is not suggested on a long-term basis because the medications will suppress with your ability to make adaptations. Furthermore, these medications can hurt in terms of limiting your ability to be physically active. The vestibular therapy exercises eliminate and/or reduces symptoms by promoting the compensation of the central nervous system for the physical deficits. You may have to do the following:
- Exercises that help in coordinating the movements of the head and the eyes
- Exercises that improve the balance of the body and improve the ability to walk
- Exercises to stimulate dizziness symptoms to desensitize the vestibular system
- Exercises to improve endurance levels and physical fitness levels