What is Vestibular Rehabilitation Therapy?

Vestibular Rehabilitation Therapy is an exercise program designed by physical therapists to deal with dizziness & balance related issues.

Dizziness and balance issues are among the most common problems diagnosed in a large percentage of the population, irrespective of age and gender. If stats are to be believed, it is a condition that is likely experienced by everyone at least once in a lifetime. For some, it may be a sign of an age-related issue whereas, for others, simple dehydration, stress, overexertion, or a health condition results in making a person feel dizzy and lose balance all of a sudden.

Apart from it, a person suffering from any vestibular disorder often experiences spinning sensations along with dizziness, balance issues, visual disturbances, or imbalance, resulting in creating hindrance in day to day activities, thus making it difficult to lead a happy, healthy life. When a person is having difficulty in sensory nerve pathways or inner ear, simple activities like walking, jogging, standing, moving the position of the neck, bending, etc. seems to be tiring and a tremendous task. Seeking medical help is recommended to treat the condition. An expert neurologist will diagnose the condition carefully by asking you to undergo a vertigo test and suggest the right vertigo dizziness treatment accordingly. If your situation demands, he may even advise you with Vestibular Rehabilitation Therapy. To understand the VRT therapy in detail, firstly, have an insight into what are vestibular disorders.

What are vestibular disorders?

Any inflammation, infection, or disorder in the inner ear, vestibular nerve or sensory nerve pathways results in causing vestibular disorders. The vestibular nerve is responsible for sending signals from the inner ear to the brain responsible for maintaining the balance of the body. An interruption in signals and unclear messages sent to the brain results in making a person lose balance and feel dizzy all of a sudden, along with spinning sensations known as vertigo.

Sudden episodes of vertigo spells come along with vestibular disorders without any warning signs. Apart from it, nausea & vomiting, reduced ability to concentrate, fatigue, etc. are some of the secondary symptoms of vestibular disorders.

With the advancements in technology, several treatments are designed to treat vestibular disorders. An expert neurologist will first diagnose the condition by asking you to undergo a series of vertigo tests. Once the underlying cause is diagnosed, he will suggest the right vertigo dizziness treatment accordingly, along with a dose of certain antibiotics and VRT exercises to completely alleviate the symptoms.

What is vestibular rehabilitation therapy?

Vestibular rehabilitation therapy is counted as one of the effective dizziness treatments that help in easing symptoms of vestibular disorders, starting from dizziness, vertigo, balance problems, visual disturbances, and so on.

An exercise program designed by physical therapists to reduce dizziness problems and improve balance issues after closely diagnosing the person suffering from a vestibular disorder is known as vestibular rehabilitation therapy. It involves a set of exercises that are designed as per the patient’s specific needs. As Vestibular rehabilitation therapy helps strengthen the balance system, it results in easing the condition, thereby giving the much-needed relief.

It is advised to consult an expert neurologist as soon as you start experiencing any vestibular disorder symptoms. The doctor will examine your condition carefully and suggest the right VRT exercises to ease dizziness and balance problems.

How effective is vestibular rehabilitation therapy?

As per medicals, VRT therapy is one of the most effective treatments to ease balance issues and reduce dizziness. It involves a series of VRT exercises designed according to individual problem areas and the severity of the condition. The designed VRT exercises help in treating both primary & secondary symptoms of vestibular disorders.

  1. The VRT exercise program effectively treats repeated episodes of vertigo spells, gaze stabilization, sensory reorganization, desensitization, and development of alternate compensatory pathways.
  2. The stability of the person is increased by practicing VRT exercises. It helps strengthen the balance system of the person and is quite effective in reducing sudden bouts of dizzy spells.
  3. Vestibular rehabilitation therapy is effective in improving vision stability, reducing the risk of falling while experiencing spinning sensations. The regular practice of VRT exercises allows a person to lead a healthy life.
  4. In some cases, patients suffering from vestibular disorders experience permanent vestibular damage. Compensation can help patients of vestibular damage to return to proper functioning. Vestibular rehabilitation therapy promotes compensation, thus allowing patients to recover completely.

Vestibular rehabilitation therapy proves effective in treating vestibular disorders only if the right VRT exercises are recommended to treat right vestibular disorders.

What are some of the best VRT exercises?

Doctors or physical therapists generally recommend a set of VRT exercises depending upon the condition of the patient. Here is a list of VRT exercises that are generally recommended by neurologist and therapists to treat vestibular disorders:

  1. Cawthorne-Cooksey Habituation Exercises

Dizzy spells are the most common symptom of vestibular disorder, which appears without any warning signs. Repeated episodes of dizzy spells can occur due to self-motion or due to visual stimuli. Cawthorne-Cooksey Habituation exercises are generally recommended to patients who experience sudden bouts of dizziness quite frequently due to changes in the position of the head and body. Dizziness caused due to a visually stimulating environment is treated well by practicing Habituation exercises regularly as it reduces the intensity of dizziness.

Cawthorne-Cooksey Habituation exercises are quite useful in easing balance related issues and reduce dizziness. It aims to relax neck and shoulder muscles and train the eyes to move independently. It is advised to go slow first and not do more than ten sets of each Cawthorne-Cooksey exercises mentioned below. Let’s have a look at some of the exercises:

  • In bed or sitting

While sitting on the bed, practice the Cawthorne-Cooksey exercise that involves eye movements. Look up and down and from side to side. Apart from it, focus on the finger moving away from the face. Once you are done with eye movements, follow a set of exercises that involves head movements starting from bending forward and backward to twirling from one side to the other.

  • Exercise while sitting

To ease balance problems, practice specific exercises while sitting comfortably. Eye and head movements, shrugs, bending forward, and bending sideways are exercises that should be practiced while regularly sitting to ease balance disorders.

  • Exercises while standing

Practice eye, head, and shoulder movements the same way in a standing position the way you do while sitting. Apart from it, you can even try to change position from sitting to standing with eyes open then closed.

2. Gaze Stabilization

As the name suggests, gaze stabilization exercises are designed to improve vision imbalances. Some patients who suffer from vestibular disorders complain about disturbances in vision. Carrying out day to day activities with a blurry vision becomes difficult. After diagnosing the condition closely, neurologists recommend Gaze stabilization exercises to improve eye movement and get a clear idea. Gaze stabilization involves head and eye exercises, your doctor will recommend depending on the underlying cause accordingly.

3. Balance training program

Suppose you are experiencing difficulty maintaining balance and experiencing loss of equilibrium due to vestibular disorder. In that case, your doctor will design a Balance training exercise to improve steadiness depending on the specific need of the patient. He may suggest practicing certain repositioning maneuvers like Epley, Semont, etc, if you are experiencing BPPV to ease the condition. Experiencing vestibular disorders? Consult an expert neurologist to get yourself diagnosed and get the customized vestibular rehabilitation therapy as per the patient’s need to reduce dizziness and improve balance issues.

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