If you’re reading this, you’re probably experiencing Vertigo, or vertigo-like symptoms including dizziness, nausea, motion sickness, vomiting, a sensation that your surroundings are spinning or moving around, & general disorientation & balance problems.
If it’s true, then you might have heard the word ‘Vestibular Rehabilitation Therapy’ thrown around quite a lot during your visits to the doctor. What exactly is Vestibular Rehabilitation Therapy? How does it help in vertigo treatment? Which patients are these vertigo exercises helpful for? Can you get your own personalized Vestibular Rehabilitation Therapy plan? We answer all of these questions for you in the article below!
What is Vestibular Rehabilitation?
Vestibular Rehabilitation is a vertigo treatment programme that is designed with certain exercises to help treat a patient’s vertigo symptoms. This Vestibular Rehabilitation Therapy programme is usually designed by a specialist, in line with your other symptoms, medical history, & a thorough analysis of your overall health.
These Vestibular Rehabilitation Therapy exercises are designed to improve your balance & to reduce any problems brought on by dizziness, nausea, motion sickness, & general vertigo. You can think of vestibular rehabilitation therapy as a sort of retraining of the vestibular system.
Vestibular Rehabilitation Therapy exercises are designed to help your body compensate for the loss in the natural vestibular system by deploying other organs in its place.
For which patients is Vestibular Rehabilitation Therapy helpful?
Typically, patients that are experiencing dizziness, imbalance, vertigo, BPPV, Meniere’s disease, Labyrinthitis, cervical dizziness, & other assorted vestibular symptoms, are often the ones that are prescribed vestibular rehabilitation therapy. Vestibular Rehabilitation therapy is also sometimes recommended for patients who have experienced stroke or brain injury resulting from a fall or an accident.
Overall, patients that can benefit from vestibular rehabilitation therapy exercises often include those that are experiencing:
- Dizziness or blurred vision that occur along with head movements
- Tightness or stiffness in the neck &/or pain
- General imbalance/disorientation when standing or walking, & the need to hold onto certain objects
- Frequent falls or accidents due to the inability to remain balanced
- A general feeling of dizziness, wooziness, & a foggy head, the inability to maintain balance & a straight gait of motion
- Vertigo, or the feeling that the world is spinning or moving around them
When you arrive at the doctor’s office to get your symptoms checked out, they will carefully assess your symptoms & ask for a detailed medical history. They will also evaluate various areas of your body & the functioning of different parts of the body including:
- Your balance & leg strength/ flexibility
- Your gait, or the general way you walk
- Your visual stability & mobility
- Your neck mobility & neck + arm strength
- A positional evaluation, including an examination of the functioning of your inner ear
Your doctor carefully evaluates the results of all of these findings, & then, considering these along with your medical history & presentation of symptoms, draws up a vestibular rehabilitation therapy plan for you. The goal of a vestibular rehabilitation therapy plan is to train your body to successfully compensate for the losses in your natural vestibular system.
This in turn strengthens your vestibular system, & helps you lead a better quality of life by improving your balance, gait, & overall health.
What sort of Vestibular Rehabilitation Therapy exercises are there in the program?
Your vestibular rehabilitation therapy program could consist of several vertigo exercises that are deemed fit for your particular case by your doctor.
The vestibular rehabilitation therapy exercises that can be included in your personalized therapy plan include:
- Vision stability training
- Posture training
- Stretching & strengthening exercises
- Balance retraining
- Walking exercises
- Neck mobility &/or stretching exercises
- General exercises for fitness
- Ergonomic training, that includes general exercises to improve workplace furnishings to help the patient deal with their balance problems
Depending on your symptoms, your medical history, & your specific requirements, your doctor will design a vestibular rehabilitation therapy plan for you.
How long does a Vestibular Rehabilitation Therapy plan last?
Usually, patients need about 1 to 2 sessions per week for about 6-8 weeks. However, the frequency of sessions & their timings depends on your exact diagnosis & the symptoms you’re experiencing. That said, there are certain tips to ensure that your vestibular rehabilitation therapy plan is best suited to your needs & helps improve your condition.
These tips that help in developing a successful Vestibular Rehabilitation Therapy plan for you include:
- Trust your doctor: Your doctor will design a suitable, helpful vestibular rehabilitation therapy plan for you depending on your exact symptoms, medical history, & overall health. Not everybody with similar symptoms or medical history or diagnosis will have the same vestibular rehabilitation therapy plan. Your VRT plan will largely depend on your primary symptoms, i.e., the one (or more) symptoms that seem to present the biggest problem in your everyday life.
For example, if you have vertigo-like symptoms, your doctor will likely include canalith repositioning maneuvers in your VRT. Similarly, if you suffer from gaze instability & inner ear issues, you might be prescribed gaze stability & habituation exercises. If you also have balance issues due to dizziness, you will also be recommended some balance exercises.
- The exercises should be easy to perform at home: Whichever exercises are included in your VRT plan; your doctor must ensure that they are easy for you to perform by yourself. This includes personal training sessions that your doctor must give to you before you are handed the VRT plan. This ensures that you strictly stick to your vestibular rehabilitation therapy home exercises schedule, & don’t find excuses to not perform them.
- Having realistic expectations: VRT is an extremely effective therapy for vertigo patients. However, it works differently for every patient. Depending on your symptoms, medical history, certain physical limitations, & general lifestyle, VRT might give different results to you. Some patients might see instant improvement in their condition, while some others might not be as lucky. For some others, it may take a long time before they see any tangible results from their own VRT plan. Yet some others might not experience any results at all, regardless of their strict adherence to their VRT plan. It’s important to understand that results strictly depend on a patient’s individual health & other factors, & might not be positive in every case.
- It’s important to constantly monitor the condition of your patients: VRT can bring on different results for every patient. Some might find the vertigo exercises quite easy to perform, while some others might struggle a lot to perform even the most basic ones.
Although it’s not very common, some patients may even find their symptoms worsening due to the VRT exercises, at least initially. In all of these scenarios, it’s important for you to keep in constant touch with your patients & monitor their progress closely during the entire course of the VRT plan.
The success of a Vestibular Rehabilitation Therapy plan lies in effective cooperation between doctor-patient, accuracy in designing the plan, & the discipline of the patient themselves.
If all of these factors are present, it’s highly likely that your VRT plan will give you the desired results within a reasonable time frame.