Patients who are experiencing unexplained vertigo, dizziness, balance problems or headaches often find relief through Vestibular Rehabilitation Therapy.
If your brain cannot rely on the information it receives from the vestibular system, your ability to maintain posture and coordinate balance can become overly dependent on vision or on the information received from the muscles and joints (proprioception).
This can lead to developing new patterns of movement to compensate for the change and to avoid head movements that are apt to create symptoms of dizziness and nausea. For example, a person might adopt an exaggerated hip sway as a method of balancing, or swivel the entire body rather than just the head when turning to look at something.
Unfortunately, these types of adaptations can result in headaches, neck pain, muscle stiffness, general fatigue, and a decrease in the ability to retrain the brain to adjust to the vestibular problem, therefore making the symptoms worse.
The goal of VRT is to retrain the brain to recognize and process signals from the vestibular system in coordination with information from vision and proprioception. This often involves desensitizing the balance system to movements that provoke symptoms.
During VRT at Pinnacle Performance, a trained Vestibular Rehab Therapist, will first perform a thorough evaluation. This includes observing posture, balance, movement, and compensatory strategies.
Using the result of this evaluation, the physical therapist will develop an individualized treatment plan that includes specific head, body, and eye exercises to be performed both in the therapy setting and at home. Many times, treatment may also include increasing activities and exercise in order to strengthen muscles and increase tolerance for symptom-provoking stimuli.
Some of the exercises and activities may at first cause an increase in symptoms as the body and brain attempt to sort out the new pattern of movements. But with time and consistent practice, coordination of signals from the eyes, proprioception, and vestibular system can occur.
In most cases, balance improves if the exercises are correctly and faithfully performed. However, if surgery is required to correct an inner ear problem, VRT will also be an important part of treatment. The physical therapist may provide a series of simple exercises to do for home care after discharge from the hospital. Often, therapists provide further therapy after a person has recovered from the surgery.