What is Vestibular Therapy?
Vestibular Rehabilitation Therapy is a specialized type of physical therapy, is used to treat vestibular disorders. This therapy often includes manual head maneuvers, as well as a progressive program that aims to reduce vertigo, dizziness, visual problems, imbalance, falls, and/or balance.
The central nervous system can make up for the loss of inner ear function after a vestibular injury. The brain learns to depend more on signals from other systems to balance vestibular balance. The following exercise strategies can help you achieve this. This central (or brain-based) compensation can help the patient to feel better and allow them to return to their normal functions.
What is the Vestibular System and how does it work?
Your vestibular system detects the head position and motion and allows you to react to any changes. It includes 1) your inner ear organs, 2) your vestibular centers of the cerebellum and midbrain, and 3) your peripheral vestibular nervous systems.
Your inner ears have vestibular organs that act as sensors and measure head tilt, forward/back, up/down, and up/down motions. Because of the many loops within the semi-circular canals, it is sometimes called a labyrinth. Your inner ear organ connects to the middle brain and the cerebellum towards your brain’s posterior. These nerves transmit motion information from your inner ears to your brain.
Your brain receives information from your inner ears but also gets information from other senses, such as vision, hearing, touch, and functions like memory and emotion. The brain then sends nerve impulses out to your muscles, trunk, and limbs in order to respond to every situation.
Benefits of Vestibular Therapy in Council Bluffs
Vestibular Rehabilitation is often recommended for patients who have been diagnosed as having a vestibular condition.
- Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV)
- Vestibular Neuritis/Labyrinthitis
- Unilateral Vestibular Hypofunction
- Vestibular Migraine
- Persistent postural perceptual dizziness (PPPD).
- Mal de Debarquement (MdDS)
- Cervicogenic Dizziness
- Post Concussion Syndrome
- Meniere’s Disease
- Neurological conditions (i.e. stroke, traumatic brain injury)
- Deconditioning of the vestibular system due to aging or inactivity
- and many other vestibular conditions
If you are not yet diagnosed with a vestibular disorder, there are common symptoms that can be treated with vestibular rehabilitation.
- Vertigo (a sense that spinning is happening)
- General dizziness, lightheadedness
- Nausea, vomiting, fatigue
- Tightness, stiffness, and/or pain in the neck
- Walking with difficulty and imbalance
- Frequent falls
- Vision problems (double vision, blurred vision due to head movement, difficulty focusing, and poor tolerance for screens)
- Mild memory problems, brain fog, difficulty concentrating.
Is Vestibular Therapy right for me?
Vestibular Therapy is likely to be beneficial if you have any of the above symptoms. It is important to remember that dizziness can be caused by many other factors.
Our team will examine the progression and onset of your condition, as well as your symptoms and episodes. They also take into account your medical history. A medical evaluation will be performed that includes:
- Multiple reflex tests and central neurological testing
- Specific brain-based functions tested by Cranial Nerve Tests
- Cervical tests to determine the health of your neck’s joints, blood flow, and muscle function
- Tests of visual oculomotor functions
- Balance testing
- Gait assessment (walking/mobility tests)
- Testing position at a table
- To view and record nystagmus, either Frenzel (or Infrared Goggle) tests are used.
Your physical therapist will assess your condition and determine whether you are a candidate for vestibular rehabilitation therapy. Your treatment plan will aim to correct any deficiencies that were found in your assessment. This will improve your daily symptoms as well as your ability to perform daily activities.
Although vestibular rehabilitation exercises can be learned quickly, they require patient consistency in order to be successful. It is recommended that the exercises should be done at least 2-3 times per day. This can make it difficult or tedious to fit into busy schedules. To make it easier to incorporate the exercises into your daily life, we recommend that patients create a schedule.
Most patients will notice a slight increase in their symptoms after the vestibular rehabilitation exercises. This means that the exercises are being done correctly and your vestibular system is stimulated appropriately. With time and consistent effort, your symptoms will improve and should be less severe. A common analogy for weight lifting is that when you first begin lifting weights, it can be difficult and your muscles will feel sore after your workout. Over time, it becomes easier to lift weights and your muscles feel less sore. This is when you can lift heavier weights or, in the case of vestibular rehabilitation cases, perform more complex vestibular exercises.
What exercises will I learn in a vestibular rehabilitation program?
Each patient’s vestibular rehabilitation program will be different. Not only are there different types of vestibular impairments but each one affects everyone differently. There are no two cases the same. We often treat patients with low functioning. They are given general exercise handouts and put through a general vestibular rehabilitation program. After identifying the patient’s impairments and making the appropriate changes to their exercise program, patients saw improvements in their condition.
Vestibular rehabilitation allows for central-brain compensation to occur. This realigns your vestibular system’s impairments. The compensation is usually divided into three categories
This is when nerve impulses in your brain can adapt to incorrect vestibular system signals. This gradual shift allows the brain to rebalance itself.
If you are constantly exposed to stimulation and vestibular movement, this process will gradually help you become less sensitive to them.
To replace the vestibular function that is missing, this recovery principle employs other body functions and strategies.
Start Vestibular Therapy in Council Bluffs
Our physical therapy team treats patients with concussions and dizziness. We offer vestibular rehabilitation and a customized vestibular rehabilitation program can be created and taught just for you. Call today to schedule an appointment with our team of experienced physical therapists to start your recovery journey!
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