Vestibular Rehabilitation

The vestibular system is important for giving humans a sense of stability in the world around them. It works with other body systems to adjust eye movement when our bodies or heads are moving. This system also helps us to sense acceleration and deceleration, like when driving in a car. Vestibular issues usually cause fleeting episodes of dizziness or vertigo when moving or changing positions. This can make it difficult to read, get out of bed, drive a car, or even walk. Vestibular rehabilitation in Charlottesville may be the answer to your dizziness or vertigo.

Common Symptoms of Vestibular Issues

  • Fleeting episodes of dizziness or vertigo
  • Spinning sensation when changing positions
  • Difficulty reading, working on a computer or cell phone
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Headaches
  • Balance difficulties, especially in darkness or uneven surfaces

Definitions:

  • Dizziness symptoms are usually described as lightheadedness, feeling like you’re on a boat, waves in your vision, or a feeling of floating. Dizziness can be caused by a variety of things including medications, changes in blood pressure, changes in head or neck position, and vestibular disorders.
  • Vertigo is defined as the sensation of true spinning spinning, which may look like the picture to the left. Acute onset vertigo can usually be treated easily and effectively if it is determined to be caused by BPPV, although there are other causes which need to be ruled out first.

What is Vestibular Rehabilitation?

Vestibular rehabilitation targets vestibular function through two main roads:

  • Compensation: You have two vestibular structures, one in each inner ear. By compensating with the unaffected vestibular system, symptoms should reduce.
  • Habituation: Habituation is a way to reduce nervous system response to a stimulus. Think of putting on a t-shirt; initially you feel it and it may be uncomfortable, but within seconds your brain forgets.  Repeated exposure to provoking stimuli can lead to a decrease in response to the movement, thus reducing symptoms.

Most conditions can be successfully treated using one of these pathways of recovery.

Keys to Recovery

Neuroplasticity, which is what allows the brain to change and adapt, is targeted with vestibular rehabilitation in Charlottesville. The brain has an amazing capacity to change and adapt to help you recover. Keys to this concept are discussed below

  1. Repetition: The more you do something, the better you get at it. The same holds true for the vestibular system. That is why it is essential that, when given a home program for your a vestibular issue, it is performed frequently.
  2. Exposure: The more you are exposed to a particular movement or stimulus, the better your brain becomes as responding and interpreting the stimulus.
  3. Salient: The movements and exercises performed need to be meaningful to the patient to promote adaptation in the brain. We tune each treatment session to be specific to each patients provoking activities.

All of these concepts are employed when developing a program for our vestibular patients in Charlottesville. We strive to help every patient to improve and recover as quickly as possible, as vestibular issues can be uncomfortable, fatiguing, and frustrating.

Typical conditions treated successfully with physical therapy:

 

For more information about conditions that may be helped by vestibular physical therapy, check out these resources offered by the Neurology Section of the APTA.

Your physical therapist will work with you to determine if vestibular rehabilitation is right for you. Call today to book an appointment if you are ready to live life to its fullest without dizziness or vertigo!

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