Vestibular Rehabilitation Therapy (VRT) involves tailored exercises that help to reduce symptoms of dizziness, vertigo & imbalance due to problems in the inner ear where your balance organs are.
When you suffer with a balance condition (see below), in most cases the system will resolve itself and you feel better. Sometimes the brain needs help to re-calibrate your system, especially if you have been without treatment for a long period of time. VR therapy helps you to compensate and improve your balance.
VR therapy should be prescribed by a trained vestibular therapist. If you suffer with dizziness or vertigo, your first point of call should be your GP. There are many different reasons why you might feel dizzy. If the GP suspects a problem in your inner ear, vestibular therapy may help you.
Depending on the condition you have, VR therapy will significantly reduce the symptoms. Sometimes it may need to be coupled with medication or require treatment from other healthcare professionals especially if you have other complicated health conditions for e.g. arthritis, heart problems or vascular problems.
Will it work for me?
VRT is suitable for people who suffer with ‘dizziness’ that originates form the inner ear.
There are many different ways to describe dizziness:
· Feeling unsteady or imbalance
· Veering whilst walking
· Feeling uncomfortable in busy places like crowds or supermarkets
· Feelings of passing out
· World moving or tilting
· Feeling drunk
· Sometimes moving or turning your head in a particular direction can make you feel dizzy, for e.g. looking up or down.
· Sometimes the dizziness could occur whilst you are sitting still.
Associated symptoms include:
· Headaches or fullness in the head
· Neck stiffness
· Visual disturbance
· Jelly legs
Feeling dizzy can be very debilitating to the point where some people find it difficult to leave the house. It can affect your quality of life and make it difficult to undertake day to day chores.
If you suffer with any of the above, VR Therapy may work for you, book an appointment with our vestibular audiologist to get more advice. If you are not sure if it will work, call us to ask.
Common causes of vertigo and dizziness (due to problems in the inner ear):
· Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo
Crystals in inner ear being displaced, causing vertigo when turning your head in certain positions.
· Vestibular Migraine
This is the second most common form of vertigo. Does not include headaches but can affect the ears, vision and balance.
Imbalance and visual disturbance. Usually you do not get spinning or vertigo.
· Labyrinthitis or vestibular neuritis
Inflammation or virus in the inner ear
· Meniere’s disease
This is a rare condition, affects the hearing, and causes tinnitus and hearing loss.
· Age related dizziness and imbalance
· Stress and anxiety
· Vascular Vertigo
This is when the balance organ receives a reduced supply of blood due to conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and other vascular problems. It is more common in older people.
What does the rehab involve?
Depending on your symptoms and diagnosis there are different exercises that can be prescribed to alleviate and reduce your symptoms, these include:
· Visual ocular reflex exercises
· Gait exercises
· Visual compensation
· Balance and leg flexibility
· Positional manoeuvres for BPPV (crystal alignment)
The exercises help you to develop vestibular compensation and includes movement of the eyes, head and body under different situations. Your brain needs to feel dizzy in order to compensate and ‘get over’ the dizziness. Therefore sometimes, when you undertake the exercises you might feel worse before you start to feel better.
The VR therapy, if done on a daily basis, will significantly reduce your symptoms in most cases. The therapy is not a short term fix, it is hard work and you need a lot of perseverance.
How long does it take?
VR therapy can take between months and years. It is not a short term fix and you need to be motivated to do the exercises on a daily basis.
Why do I have to see a specialist?
When you initially have your consultation, the exercises that will be provided will be a basic regime to ease you into the therapy. Often these exercises make you feel worse before you feel better which is why it is so important to have a professional at hand during the rehab process. In order to compensate over the dizziness, you need to feel dizzy, this means putting yourself in uncomfortable situations.
You will be given 2 to 3 weeks to undertake these exercises at home. Once you improve the rehab will be made more challenging to target the symptoms that bother you specifically in your daily life. With each appointment, you program will be tailored and modified to suit you and situations that you find difficult.
Epley manoeuvres and positional testing
An epley manoeuvre is specifically done for the condition called Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV). This is a condition where the crystals in your ear move out of place causing vertigo or spinning whenever you move your head in different positions for example when turning over in bed or looking up. In order to diagnose BPPV, a positional test will be undertaken to check and see if you have this problem. If you do, epley manoeuvres can be performed to re-align your crystals and remove the vertigo.
Call us to speak to a Vestibular therapist and enquire.