Headache

VESTIBULAR & VERTIGO REHABILITATION

WHAT IS THE VESTIBULAR SYSTEM?

Dizziness is the 2nd most frequent complaint in a primary doctor office. The research says that 4 out of 10 people will experience severe dizziness at some point in their life. Why? Well, there can be many different causes (often the brain has an information processing problem). Symptoms very often begin suddenly. This could be from inner ear, low blood pressure, medications, neck (cervical) dysfunctions, neurologic conditions or more serious issues. 

Our vestibular PTs can evaluate a proper course of action to assess, treat, triage your dizziness (or balance) or recommend further medical evaluation if needed. See below for more information.

SYMPTOMS OF VESTIBULAR ISSUES:

  • Dizziness

  • Nausea

  • Vomiting

  • Vertigo (a sense of your surroundings spinning / moving)

  • Imbalance or feeling "off"

  • Lightheadedness

  • Falling or stumbling

  • Disorientation

COMMON DISORDERS THAT CAN AFFECT THE FUNCTION OF THE VESTIBULAR SYSTEM:

Vertigo - Benign  Paroxysmal Positional (BPPV)

Also known as Vertigo. For many the prominent symptom that people experience is the sensation that the room is spinning. This is a condition that affects the balance centers of your inner ear from position changes of the head (e.g. turning in bed) and otoconia (crystals in the inner ear).

 

This is one of the most common disorders of the vestibular system, however, it is very treatable and can often be resolved in 1-2 sessions.

Neck (Cervical) Tightness, Stiffness, and Poor Posture

Neck (cervical) tightness, stiffness, and posture related issues can be a major cause of vestibular dysfunction. Our upper spine gives input to our position, and can cause severe dizziness. Treatment to this region is utilized if this is determined to be the cause of a patient’s symptoms.

Oscillipsia

This is when you have a sense of your environment staying in constant movement (walking, biking, driving, or even when stationary). This can be treated through desensitization training.

General Balance Issues

Often these clients have noted greater frequency of unsteadiness, tripping, stumbling or even falling. Typically, these individuals benefit greatly from a home routine for improving their steadiness and preventing falls and improving walking (or a general sense of unsteadiness).

Concussions, Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) or Stroke (TIA OR CVA)

There can be a variety of symptoms after these types of brain injuries. We work to improve concentration, visual issues, headaches and/or migraines, fatigue, dizziness, sensitivity to light and/or sounds and nausea.

QUICK TIPS:

  • Reduce your screen time

  • Rest 

  • Stay hydrated

  • Move slowly when changing positions

  • Avoid alcohol, smoking, caffeine 

  • Pause when you stand and wait until symptoms improve prior to moving on

  • Have your blood pressure checked! The above symptoms can be caused by a drop in blood pressure. This is called orthostatic hypotension.

HOW DOES VESTIBULAR THERAPY WORK?

One of the most common impairments is called BPPV (benign paroxysmal positional vertigo), which affects the inner ear. The vestibular system is flared due to dislodged calcium crystals (otoconia) in the semicircular canal. This triggers incorrect messages to your system. In this condition, you will often have severe symptoms of vertigo (room spinning) with changes of position to your head. Your therapist will confirm your diagnosis and then perform a maneuver to return these crystals to their proper position on the same visit. Physical Therapy is the best treatment, and often only requires 1-2 sessions.

 

Our physical therapists provide specific vestibular exercises or manual techniques to help in your recovery of other vestibular conditions as well. With practice, patients begin to acclimate to multiple stimuli, which decreases the severity of their symptoms. Exercises also help in substitution of difficult tasks through enhancing other systems of the body. These strategies are often quite helpful to integrate other systems and adapt for the primary issue.