Vestibular rehabilitation therapy (VRT) is a form of physical therapy that uses specialized exercises that result in gaze and gait stabilization. Most VRT exercises involve head movement, and head movements are essential in stimulating and retraining the vestibular system. Vestibular rehabilitation therapy has been a highly effective modality for most adults and children with disorders of the vestibular or central balance system. In a number of studies, customized VRT programs were significantly more effective than generic exercises in resolving symptoms.
The basis for the success of VRT is the use of existing neural mechanisms in the human brain for adaptation, plasticity, and compensation. The extent of vestibular compensation and adaptation is closely related to the direction, duration, frequency, magnitude, and nature of the retraining stimulus. Specifically designed VRT exercise protocols take advantage of this plasticity of the brain to increase sensitivity and restore symmetry. This results in an improvement in vestibulocular control, an increase in the gain of the vestibulocular reflex (VOR), better postural strategies, and increased levels of motor control for movement. Other factors that affect the degree of individual compensation include overall physical status, the functional status of remaining sensory systems, the integrity of central brain mechanisms, age, and higher sensory functions such as memory, motor coordination, and cognitive ability.
Do you have vertigo, feel dizzy, or are off balance?
Vestibular rehabilitation takes a specific approach to assessing and treating the body’s 3 balance systems: our vestibular (inner ear), visual, and sensory (proprioception) systems. Treatment of Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo includes a series of repositioning maneuvers and can typically be corrected in less than 3 visits. Other conditions such as Vestibular Neuritis, Meniere’s Disease, Migraine Associated Vertigo, and Post Concussion Syndrome can be managed with an individualized vestibular rehabilitation exercise program.