1. What is vestibular rehabilitation (vestibular physical therapy)?
Vestibular Rehabilitation is type of neuromuscular training that maximizes the body’s natural ability to maintain balance.
2. Who can benefit from vestibular rehabilitation?
Any patient with dizziness or disequilibrium who is motivated can benefit from this educational process. Integrity Rehab + Home Health offers balance and Vestibular Rehabilitation Therapy (VRT) to address symptoms related to the following diagnoses:
- Acoustic Neuroma
- Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV)
- Central Vestibular Dysfunction
- Cervicogenic Dizziness
- Concussion and Post-Concussion Syndrome
- Migraine-Associated Vertigo (MAV)
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Parkinson’s Disease
- Stroke (CVA) Rehabilitation
- Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
- Vestibular Neuritis
- and more!
3. What is the physical therapist’s role in vestibular rehabilitation?
Physical therapists have training in the anatomy, physiology and function of the body systems that control balance (visual, proprioceptive and vestibular). The physical therapist will evaluate the patient to determine the impairment and then design a program of exercises and activities to decrease dizziness symptoms with an emphasis on proper gait and balance.
4. Why/how does vestibular rehabilitation work?
The goal of vestibular rehabilitation is to “retrain” the brain to more effectively process sensory information in order to improve balance. Vestibular rehabilitation helps the brain to recognize and process signals from the vestibular system. These signals coordinate with information from vision and positional awareness of body parts. Vestibular rehabilitation may include training the balance system to be less sensitive to movements that cause symptoms. Retinal slip, which occurs with eye movement while focusing on a target, has also been suggested as one of the primary mechanisms for recovery of the visual blurring that is so common after a vestibular disorder.
5. What kind of physical therapy treatments are available for vestibular dysfunction?
Typically, treatment includes increasing the patient’s activities and exercise in order to strengthen muscles and increase tolerance for certain stimuli. Treatments for vestibular rehabilitation may include therapeutic exercise, manual therapy, neuromuscular reeducation and gait training.
Manual physical therapy can help in aligning cervical spine correctly to enhance the vestibular system. Since patients with vestibular dysfunction are at greater risk of falling, gait training is particularly important. Occasionally, an assistive device will be provided to make a patient more stable while walking. Strategies to improve stability while walking are also emphasized in order to minimize the risk of falling.
Treatment also includes education on the function of the vestibular system. This can help the patient identify the symptoms brought on by movement or environments versus those brought on from a spontaneous attack. Understanding this distinction helps make the dizziness more understandable and predictable.
If you have health issues you’d like a Doctor of Physical Therapy to address, most insurances don’t require a physician’s referral for physical therapy treatment. Give us a call today or click here to schedule a new evaluation!