Vestibular Rehabilitation Therapy

What Is It?

Vestibular therapy consists of the performance of an individualized group of exercises, designed to habituate excessive visual dependence or improve various balance strategies.

Vestibular Rehabilitation Therapy – VRT is an alternative form of treatment involving specific exercises designed to decrease dizziness, increase balance function, and increase general activity levels.  The exercise program is designed to promote central nervous system compensation for the inner ear and other balance deficits.

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Why Does Vestibular Therapy Work?

Vestibular disorders affect the vestibule-ocular reflex, which controls eye movement and gaze stabilization during active head movement.  These disorders also affect the vestibulospinal reflex which influences postural stability.  Patients with vestibular disorders may present with defects in gaze stabilization and/or unsteadiness.  This usually occurs when they’re challenged by uneven surfaces, quick turns or with reduced vision.

The underlying physiological basis for VRT focuses on the plasticity of the central nervous system.  VRT doesn’t regenerate or treat the damaged vestibular end-organ itself.  Instead, it works by allowing the central nervous system and the brain to acclimate or adapt to asymmetrical / conflicting input from the vestibulo-ocular reflex and vestibulospinal reflex.

General Diagnoses Types

  • Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo
  • Unilateral Peripheral Vestibular Loss
  • Bilateral Peripheral Vestibular Loss
  • Central Lesions
  • Balance Disorder
  • Gait Disturbances

Treatment

Vestibular rehabilitation therapy utilizes:

  • Substitution
  • Adaptation
  • Habituation

through vestibulo-ocular and gaze stabilization activities as well as balance exercises.

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