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Vestibular Rehabilitation

Dizziness and/or vertigo is one of the leading causes of doctors visits among older adults although it is a common occurrence among people of all ages, including children. Statistics show that almost 40% of the people will experience vestibular disturbance at least once during their lifetime. Dizziness has many treatable causes, including vestibular disorder.

 

The vestibular system includes the middle ear and the associated parts of the brain, and its job is to control balance, equilibrium and spatial orientation. Problems with this system often cause dizziness, vertigo (spinning sensation), nausea, unsteadiness, loss of balance, difficulty focusing, motion sensitivity, and difficulty with crowds or high stimuli situations (movies, grocery shopping, driving). A vestibular condition can greatly affect daily life when it causes those who experience it to limit activities or when symptoms cause anxiety. Quality of life can be restored with treatment.

One of the most common and easily treated vestibular disorders is Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV).  BPPV occurs when crystals that are normally in the utricle, collect in the semi-circular canal of the inner ear. These crystals then interfere with the normal flow within the semi-circular canals and cause faulty signals about head motion to be sent to the brain. The cause of BPPV is not completely understood. It can happen naturally, or be precipitated by an incident such as infection or head injury. With treatment, BPPV is treatable and can often be resolved in as few as two sessions.

 

Vestibular rehabilitation (VRT) is a form of physiotherapy involving specific exercises and manual treatment to alleviate the symptoms caused by inner ear (vestibular) disorders. The physiotherapist will conduct a thorough assessment and develop a treatment plan to improve:

  • sensation of stability (relieve the sensation of dizziness or vertigo)

  • gaze stability (ability to see clearly while moving your head)

  • balance

  • dynamic stability (steadiness while walking or doing other movements)

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