We all lose our balance sometimes, or occasionally feel light headed when we get up too quickly, but when these things happen frequently, or regularly it can be a sign that something is going on with your vestibular system.
If the intensity or frequency of your dizziness or vertigo prevents you from going out or doing the things you love, it’s time to get them addressed!
We have physiotherapists who are specially trained in treating these symptoms, which can be part of vestibular system dysfunction.
What is Vestibular Physiotherapy?
The vestibular system is one of the body’s systems that helps to maintain balance and posture.
It works with your vision and sensation to relay information to your brain about where your body is in space.
Your vestibular system is located in your brain and your inner ear.
Any dysfunction in the vestibular system can cause a mismatch in signals between the systems that together are responsible for balance which can cause dizziness or vertigo and reduced balance.
Vestibular physiotherapy is the branch of physiotherapy that aims to treat vertigo and balance dysfunction.
The overall goal of vestibular physiotherapy is to reduce your symptoms and get you back to your activities.
What Does Vestibular Physiotherapy Help With?
Dizziness will affect approximately 50% of people at some point in their life and is the number one reason doctor visits in people over age 65.
This dizziness is also associated with falls and fears of falling which can have negative consequences such as loss of independence and reduced quality of life (link to falls blog). You are not alone and there are things that can help!
Vestibular physiotherapy can help you manage symptoms such as dizziness and vertigo by allowing you to regain better control over your symptoms and learn self-management strategies.
Vestibular physiotherapy can also help to improve balance which helps reduce the risk of falls.
Treatment is focussed on regaining functional independence and can help you return to doing what you love to do!
Will Vestibular Physiotherapy Help Me?
If you’re experiencing vertigo or dizziness vestibular physiotherapy can help.
Common Conditions Vestibular Physiotherapy Can Treat
Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV)
Migraine-associated vertigo (MAV)
If you haven't receive a specific diagnosis, but are experiencing general dizziness, foginess or off in your balance vestibular Physiotherapy can help!
If you're still not sure if Vestibular Physiotherapy is right for you, book in a FREE 15 minute consultation with Miriam, Ally, Natalie or Dave.
Meet our Vestibular Physiotherapists
What Does Vestibular Physiotherapy Treatment Look Like?
At your first appointment, your physiotherapist will ask questions about your concerns and symptoms, and perform a thorough assessment to gain insight into what is going on. Part of this will include tests to help your physiotherapist assess your inner ear.
The treatment you receive will depend on the symptoms you are experiencing and what is contributing to them.
If there are displaced crystals in the inner ear, your physiotherapist will attempt to reposition these crystals and rest the inner ear using head position maneuvres to relieve the vertigo. One such maneuver is called the epeley maneuver.
If there has been trauma to the brain from a concussion for example or some damage to the vestibular system, rehab will help to compensate for these deficits. It does this by making long term changes in the brain and neuron connections to help the brain adapt to any deficits in the vestibular system.
Neck pain and dysfunction can also play a role in dizziness and if this is the case for you, neck exercise and manual therapy may help to relieve these symptoms.
Vestibular physiotherapy treatment is exercise-based and aimed at improving postural control and balance, reducing risk of falls, and allowing the vestibular system to adapt to movements that are now provoking symptoms. Your physiotherapist will give you individualized exercises aimed at addressing the root cause of the issue.
Your individualised treatment plan will include things like:
- Eye tracking exercises
- Adaptation and habituation exercises to reduce sensitivity of your symptoms to specific movements
- Balance and coordination exercises
- Head position manoeuvres to try and reset the inner ear
- Neck exercise and manual therapy
What are the Benefits of Vestibular Physiotherapy?
Treat and manage vertigo
Manage vestibular symptoms
Get back to doing what you love!
Frequently Asked Questions about Vestibular Physiotherapy
What does a vestibular physiotherapist do? Can Physiotherapy help the vestibular system?
Your vestibular physiotherapist will assess the organ in your inner ear. They will do this by positioning your head at different angles to try to reproduce your vertigo and learn what the possible cause may be. This may include use of the epely manuever. They will also assess your eye movements, neck, balance and coordination to try and find out what is most likely causing the issue. Based on their findings, they will make an individualised treatment plan for you.
How long does vestibular physical therapy last?
Vestibular rehab on average lasts about 6-8 weeks but everyone is different! Some people may only need a few treatment sessions whereas other people’s symptoms may take a few months to resolve. It all depends on the person, the underlying condition and the severity of it.
What is the success rate of vestibular therapy?
Depends on the condition being treated. According to the American Speech-Language and Hearing association, 80% of those with BPPV will have a decrease in symptoms and 10-30% in unilateral uncompensated hypofunction (UVH).