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Vestibular Rehabilitation is an exercise-based therapy that specifically targets the symptoms of vestibular disorders such as vertigo, dizziness, motion sensitivity, visual disturbance, and imbalance.
A critical component of vestibular rehabilitation is the initial assessment. This involves a thorough evaluation to understand not only the individual’s symptoms but also how these symptoms are affecting them in their daily life. As even the same vestibular condition can cause different symptoms, a careful history and thorough physical assessment is critical to understanding an individual’s specific impairments and is crucial to implementing a customized and effective treatment plan.
Components of the examination will include testing of gaze stability (the eye’s ability to remain stable when the head is moving), motion sensitivity, and static and dynamic balance. There are many standardized tests that may be used in a vestibular examination such the Modified Clinical Test of Sensory Interaction in Balance (m-CTSIB), the Functional Gait Assessment (FGA) or the Dynamic Visual Acuity Test. These and other tests help not only to determine the degree of vestibular impairment but also guide treatment and provide accurate measures to ensure the expected progress towards short-term and long-term goals is being made.
While the deficits of a vestibular disorder may be permanent, a decrease in symptoms and improvements in function are achievable. A vestibular rehabilitation program stimulates both vestibular and other sensory inputs and challenges the body’s ability to accurately detect motion, balance, and stabilize gaze thus promoting central compensation and habituation.
The exercises of a vestibular rehabilitation program are typically completed at home and regular daily practice is critical to success. Depending on the condition a typical exercise program will include gaze stability exercises such as maintaining visual focus on a target while the head or body is moving, a variety of balance exercises, and exercises to target any motion sensitivity. Regular in-clinic re-assessment allows for the progression of the exercises to ensure they remain challenging and are ensuring progress towards patient goals.
Originally developed in the 1940s to treat dizziness after a head injury, vestibular rehabilitation has evolved from a simple uniform movement protocol to an individualized, patient- and goal-centered approach. Vestibular rehabilitation is supported by an extensive and growing body of scientific evidence and is the preferred treatment approach for many vestibular conditions. It has brought symptom relief and improved function to thousands of people and continues to evolve and become more effective all the time.
At Kingston Ear InstituteTM, we take pride in our patient-centered, evidence-based approach to vestibular rehabilitation and take pleasure and pride in our patients’ progress and realization of their goals.