What is Vestibular Rehab?

By Rachel Long, PT, DPT

Many people suffer from vestibular symptoms, which include problems with balance and vision as well as position or movement-related dizziness.  Common complaints include vertigo, unsteadiness, lightheadedness, motion sickness, sense of tilting, frequent falls or loss of balance.  Dizziness itself is not a disease- it is a symptom that often times results from a problem in the inner ear.  Vestibular rehabilitation is a specialized form of therapy designed to diagnose the cause of vertigo or balance issues and alleviate the symptoms of vestibular disorders.


Vestibular Rehab has been shown to be highly effective in the treatment of disorders that cause dizziness and loss of balance. Once an evaluation is scheduled with a PT who specializes in treating these disorders, you will be asked to complete a medical history form as well as some outcome measures. This intake information will be reviewed by the physical therapist and any pertinent issues will be discussed. The physical examination utilizes some of the most up to date equipment and consists of an oculomotor examination (looking at how the eyes are moving), vestibular function tests, positional testing, gait and balance examinations, musculoskeletal screening, and a central nervous system screening.  When all of the deficits are identified, a physical therapy diagnosis is made, a treatment plan is formulated and treatment goals are set.


Following the initial evaluation, typical therapy sessions last from 40 minutes to one hour. The sessions are one on one. Each treatment plan will be different depending on the cause of the symptoms. There are specific exercises for each type of vestibular impairment. They are meant to increase the vestibular function and the overall function of the patient. Many vestibular disorders also cause disequilibrium therefore balance and/or gait dysfunction is also addressed during a treatment session.  Every patient is given a home exercise program to follow. It is imperative that the patient commits to this program to achieve their goals as quickly as possible.


 It is important to know that while vestibular and balance disorders can debilitating and scary, there are treatments. Working closely with your medical provider and your physical therapist can help you to return to the highest function possible. Contact Lifeline Therapy to make an appointment for your vestibular rehab.

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