Vestibular rehabilitationGood balance is essential for daily life, from getting out of bed to crossing the road. A healthy balance system uses information from the brain, inner ears, eyes, and joints and enables people to see clearly when moving their head.
What causes dizziness?Almost 1 in 4 adults under 65 years report dizziness or vertigo, often causing occupational difficulties or preventing employment but less than 25 percent had received treatment. The most common form of dizziness and balance disorder is BPPV (Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo), a disorder of the inner ear resulting in episodes of intense dizziness on certain head movements. Other causes include side effects from medication or alcohol, brain disorders such as stroke, concussion or cerebellar degeneration, cardiac problems, and anxiety.
What is vestibular rehabilitation?
VR is an exercise-based programme to encourage the central nervous system to compensate for problems in the inner ear. Following thorough examination, specialist physiotherapists develop personalized exercise-based management plans including home exercise programmes.
A management plan may include:
- Eye and head movement exercises
- Exercises to improve standing balance and walking
- Specific techniques to reposition fragments in the inner ear which cause dizziness in BPPV
- Education and advice on activities of daily living to improve confidence and function
- Advice on falls reduction/prevention
Improvement may be seen in:
- 80 percent of patients with unilateral vestibular loss (e.g. labyrinthitis, acoustic neuroma surgery)
- 80 percent of patients with BPPV after one treatment session
- Patients with a central cause (e.g. stroke) may show some improvement
The use of VR in concussion, migraine headaches, and nonspecific balance loss of the elderly may be helpful.
Physiotherapists are ideally placed to provide early screening and intervention to minimize the impact on the daily life of balance and dizziness disorders.
As specialist physiotherapists, we provide personalized VR programs which are clinically effective in reducing distressing symptoms and improving quality of life.