It has been estimated that around 90 million Americans have experienced dizziness at least once in their lifetime, which makes up about 42% of the total population. Moreover, senior patients who are aged 75 and above, visit doctors because of dizziness being the main reason. Dizziness should not be taken lightly in adults especially. As it is one of the top leading causes of serious injury and death in seniors.
In this article, we are going to talk about Vestibular Rehabilitation and how it helps you regain your strength and balance.
Vestibular Rehabilitation Explained
Vestibular rehabilitation is one of the most common types of exercise-based programs to help improve balance. As well as significantly reduce problems related to dizziness. It is planned and designed by a specialty-trained vestibular physical therapist. Mainly, it is a form of physical therapy Dallas that makes use of various specialized exercises that result in gaze and gait stabilization.
A physical therapist will first do an ocular examination of a patient, then a motion sensitivity testing, postural awareness testing, and dynamic balance testing in order to first sort out the cause, and also to identify the most dysfunctional systems in the patient,
The overall therapy’s goal is to enhance the gaze stability of an individual, postural stability, improve vertigo, and also improve activities of daily living. Most Vestibular Rehabilitation therapy exercises make use of head movement, which is highly imperative in stimulating and retraining the vestibular system of an individual.
How Does Vestibular Rehabilitation Work?
A VR therapist’s main goal is to improve the balance of the patient and to alleviate or eliminate other symptoms of dizziness.
When a patient first visits a vestibular rehabilitation. A physical therapist will first closely evaluate the patient’s symptoms and also review their medical history. The overall assessment may include one, or a combination of, the following:
- Leg strength/flexibility
- Gait (the way an individual walks)
- Visual stability
- Ease of mobility
- Neck mobility
- Neck strength
- Arm strength
- Positional testing
- Inner ear exam
Thus, based on these findings and careful assessment and evaluation, an individualized therapy plan will be designed. The primary goal of physical therapy is to improve the deficits that were identified in the patient. Moreover, the physical therapists will devise numerous exercises that will greatly help improve the patient’s ability to function in activities of everyday living, eliminate the risk of falling and ultimately, improve the patient’s overall quality of life.
The therapist will make use of numerous exercises in order to help guide the patient’s head and neck in various positions to move the calcium crystals. In simple words, the therapist makes use of such exercises to move the crystals out of the wrong part of the ear. It is important to know that overall VR therapy is very safe. Effective and is also an evidence-based solution that will only require a few sessions.
In case a patient suffers from more moderate-to-severe diagnoses (such as labyrinthitis or concussions), vestibular rehabilitation will make use of exercises and activities in order to alleviate the feeling of imbalance or to help the brain learn to use other senses to make up for the problems with the inner ear.
VR therapy also makes great use of the existing neural mechanisms present in the human brain. Those are needed for adaptation, plasticity, and compensation as well. However, vestibular compensation and adaptation are closely linked to the direction, duration, frequency, magnitude. As well as the nature of the retraining stimulus in the individual.
Physical Therapy Helps
Therefore, physical therapy helps take great advantage of this plasticity of our brain in order to increase sensitivity and restore symmetry as well. Not only does this improve our vestibule ocular control, but also improves postural strategies and increases levels of motor control2 that is essential for movement.
Physical therapists in vestibular rehabilitation make great use of habituation. In habituation, the therapist introduces the patient to numerous exercises that help provoke the brain into experiencing dizziness, or vertigo as well. Moreover, such exercises are done as therapists believe that by gently triggering mild dizziness or vertigo in patients. Their brain will actually become used to that specific sensation. Physical therapists also commonly make use of substitution. In substitution, an individual is shown new ways of doing specific things. For example, new ways of using their eyes can help alleviate or even eliminate balance problems.
Therefore, vestibular rehabilitation aims to train the person’s brain to process movements differently. However, it is still important to note that vestibular rehabilitation is not suitable for all purposes. In case dizziness or imbalance is caused as a result of brain problems. It is crucial to seek professional medical help. As such an individual will not benefit from this form of therapy.
Who Can Benefit from Vestibular Rehabilitation?
Vestibular Rehabilitation is most commonly aimed at patients who suffer from or are diagnosed with. Dizziness, imbalance, vertigo, Meniere’s syndrome, benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV). And other neck-related dizziness and common migraines. Vestibular rehabilitation is also highly beneficial for individuals who have suffered from stroke or brain injury, or who often fall easily.
Moreover, vestibular rehabilitation is also very helpful to individuals who have the following symptoms:
- Blurry vision with head movements
- Neck tightness
- Can’t walk without the support of something/someone
- Frequent falls/trips
- Feelings of ‘dizziness’ and foggy head
- Head spinning
Is Vestibular Rehabilitation Therapy Successful?
Research and experts have proven how effective vestibular rehabilitation therapy is highly effective in improving symptoms of an individual that are linked to numerous vestibular (inner ear and/or balance) disorders. As numerous individuals who suffer from vestibular disorders experience problems with dizziness, visual disturbance, vertigo, and imbalance, vestibular rehabilitation, in most cases, is the only treatment needed.
Moreover, in various studies, vestibular rehabilitation therapy has shown to be much more effective than generic exercises in resolving symptoms. Patients who have undergone physical therapy have benefits in numerous ways, such as a drastic reduction in dizziness, improved visual focus, improved balance, improved exercise tolerance and physical ability, regained energy levels, a better quality of life, and much more.