Vestibular therapy is a powerful form of treatment. Its design is to help patients with vestibular disorders return to daily life without discomfort and dizziness.
In the following content, we explore a variety of vestibular disorders, including causes and symptoms, as well as the impact vestibular therapy can have on suffering patients. Finally, we discuss what vestibular therapy commonly involves.
What are Vestibular Disorders?
The vestibular system is a simple link between your ear and brain, keeping you steady and balanced while moving and performing everyday tasks. Vestibular disorders are produced if this small, yet incredibly important system is damaged in any way.
Vestibular disorders blossom a variety of symptoms, often slightly different for every patient. However, serious dizziness (vertigo) and trouble with balance are frequently reported symptoms.
Vertigo is the sensation of feeling like you are moving when you are not. Furthermore, it presents itself as an intense, room-spinning feeling. This extreme dizziness is prompted by calcium crystals moving to an unnatural area within your ear, telling your brain that your body is in motion – even when you are completely still.
While these are among the most common symptoms, hearing and vision issues can also be present. Take note of a few of the most common vestibular disorders and symptoms below:
1. Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV)
For individuals suffering from BPPV, vertigo is one of the most common symptoms.
Known simply as an inner ear infection, Labyrinthitis occurs when your labyrinth – a sensitive structure within your ear – is irritated and inflamed. The symptoms of Labyrinthitis can be extensive, including hearing loss, ear pain, pressure, high fever, dizziness, and nausea.
3. Vestibular Neuritis
Dizziness, nausea, and difficulty with daily functions caused by Vestibular Neuritis often stems from a viral infection in the inner ear or somewhere else in the body, which then attacks the inner ear and can cause severe nausea, dizziness, and imbalance.
Often defined by severe bouts of vertigo, imbalance, and tinnitus (a ringing or roaring sound in the ears), Meniere’s Disease is triggered by excessive fluid production in the inner ear. Meniere’s should be treated right away as the disorder can lead to prolonged hearing damage and balance impairments. A good relationship with a vestibular physical therapist is extremely helpful in managing the symptoms of Meniere’s disease.
4. Perilymphatic Fistula (PLF)
Individuals can be born with PLF or develop it from an injury. PLF stems from a tear between the middle ear and inner ear that is now filled with fluid. As a result, this condition causes dizziness and potential hearing loss.
Traumatic head injuries can occur from multiple incidents, including car accidents, sporting collisions, or accrued head trauma after a sudden fall. Whatever the cause, concussions often cause vestibular damage, and commonly result in dizziness, difficulty in maintaining balance, the inability to focus, headaches, and trouble stabilizing vision while in motion.
How are Vestibular Disorder Symptoms Triggered?
Uncomfortable vestibular symptoms are often triggered by simple head position changes.
Individuals suffering from any of the previously listed disorders may have difficulty performing any of the following daily activities:
- Rolling over in bed
- Bending over
- Turning head quickly
- Looking up
- Keeping balanced with eyes closed
- Focusing on a single target while head is moving
- Shifting eyes from one target to another
- Walking through grocery stores
- Riding in a car
How Does Vestibular Therapy Help?
Vestibular Therapy Techniques (VRT) are performed by specially-trained physical therapists.
According to the Journal of Clinical Neurology:
“The goals of VRT are 1) to enhance gaze stability, 2) to enhance postural stability, 3) to improve vertigo, and 4) to improve activities of daily living. VRT facilitates vestibular recovery mechanisms: vestibular adaptation, substitution by the other eye-movement systems, substitution by vision, somatosensory cues, other postural strategies, and habituation.”
For individuals suffering from vertigo, therapists can develop individualized treatment plans designed to improve each individual patient’s symptoms. Patients may be led through balance training that retrains the body to react properly to movement. Alternatively, they may be guided through specific eye/head movements that retrains the brain to react properly to vestibular information.
What Does Vestibular Therapy Involve?
At your initial visit, your physical therapist may perform a preliminary evaluation to understand your symptoms, review medical history, and accurately assess your current condition. The examination may include evaluations of:
- Eye and head movements
- Gait (the way you walk)
- Visual stability
- Positional testing
- Neck mobility
Once the initial assessment is complete, your physical therapist will assign and walk you through the best exercises for your specific condition.
Rock Valley Physical Therapy: Vestibular Therapy Specialists
Individuals who suffer from the effects of vestibular disorders can find significant relief and rehabilitation working with vestibular therapy specialists. At Rock Valley Physical Therapy, we are dedicated to helping individuals return to normal life. To get in touch with our team, feel free to request an appointment today!