Vestibular rehabilitation is an exercise-based program, designed by a specialty-trained vestibular physical therapist, to improve balance and reduce problems related to dizziness.
Dizziness can be described as:
These feelings or sensations can occur when you are standing still, lying down or changing positions. The symptoms can be constant or episodic in nature, only lasting seconds, minutes or hours.
Each year, more than 10 million patients visit a physician due to dizziness. It is the most common complaint of patients over the age of 75, but it can occur in patients of any age.
Dizziness is generally not serious, but is often a sign of a mechanical problem. Dizziness can be due to an inner ear disorder, a side effect of medications, a sign of neck dysfunction, or it can be due to a more serious problem such as a brain or a heart problem.
Patients typically referred for vestibular rehabilitation therapy are those diagnosed with dizziness, imbalance, vertigo, Meniere’s syndrome, benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV), neck-related dizziness and migraines. Other candidates are patients who have had a stroke or brain injury or who frequently fall.
Common symptoms that can be helped with vestibular rehabilitation include:
At your appointment, a physical therapist will evaluate your symptoms and review your medical history. Your assessment will include all or part of the following areas:
Based on the findings, a plan of care is developed. The goal of your treatment plan is to improve any deficits that were identified. This, in turn, will improve your ability to function in activities of everyday living, reduce your risk for falling and ultimately, improve your quality of life.
Many times, vestibular rehabilitation therapy will be the only treatment needed. Other times, it is a part of the presurgery/postsurgery treatment plan. In most cases, if patients continue to perform the exercises they have learned, balance and dizziness problems decrease significantly or completely disappear.
Examples of exercises you might learn include:
No two exercise treatment plans are exactly alike. Your exercise program is developed by identifying your deficits. For example, if your symptoms have been linked to an inner ear problem, you will also learn how to do some self-treatment exercises. Continuing an exercise plan at home can help prevent and/or treat new dizziness and balance episodes.
Patients are typically seen 1 to 2 times each week for 6 to 8 weeks, but this varies based on the patient’s diagnosis, severity of symptoms, and response to therapy. Some patients may be seen for only 1 to 2 sessions; other patients may need continued treatment for a few months.
Expected vestibular rehabilitation outcomes include:
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This information is provided by the Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider for advice about a specific medical condition. This document was last reviewed on: 05/04/2018