What is the vestibular system?
The vestibular system includes the parts of your inner ear that sense head position and movement.
The brain uses information from the vestibular system, visual system and your muscles and joints to help maintain your balance, spatial orientation and ability to see clearly when you move.
If the system is damaged by disease, aging or injury, vestibular disorders can result. They are often associated with one or more of these symptoms:
– Imbalance, unsteadiness
– Hearing loss
– Vision impairment
– Cognitive changes (difficulty thinking/paying attention, reduced memory)
– Motion sickness
– Psychological changes
– Increased fatigue
What is vestibular rehabilitation?
A specialized form of therapy used to assess and treat vestibular disorders or symptoms characterized by dizziness, vertigo, reduced balance and visual disturbances. Therapists with additional training will perform a comprehensive exam to identify the patient’s problems.
Based on the assessment findings they will then educate the patient about their condition and develop a customized treatment plan. Exercises are often prescribed for the patient to perform at home.
The balance training done as part of vestibular rehab is also effective for people who don’t necessarily have a vestibular disorder but have orthopaedic/sensory or other brain-related disorders that affect their equilibrium.
Vestibular therapists also perform falls risk screening for aging individuals by assessing their balance, mobility and strength. They will provide the patient with an individualized exercise program to reduce their chance of falling and/or recover and return to independent living after a fall.