• What is Vestibular Rehab? Everything you need to know.

    September 11, 2020 | By Tony Yong

    What is Vestibular Rehab? Everything you need to know.

    Vestibular Rehabilitation is an exercise-based program used to treat issues with dizziness and imbalance. Dizziness is most commonly occurs in patients aged 75 and older; however, it can occur in patients of any age. Patients referred for Vestibular Rehab generally suffer from vertigo, imbalance, dizziness, and migraines. Other less common reasons for referral can be patients that may have suffered from brain injuries, strokes, or frequent falls.


    Did you know:

    • Each year more than 10 million patients visit physicians due to dizziness.
    • Vertigo, imbalance, and dizziness occur in 40% of people over 40 years of age.

    Vestibular disorders can seem to appear from out of nowhere or stem from factors such as trauma (car accidents, falls, etc.), inner ear infections, ageing, medications, tumours or other brain-related issues, or as symptoms of other diseases/conditions.

    Vestibular issues can also create other complications, like lack of concentration, decreased activity, restricted movement, reclusiveness, anxiety, and depression.


    Common symptoms that have been commonly treated with Vestibular Rehab are:

    • Neck tightness, stiffness, or pain
    • Headaches
    • Imbalance
    • Dizziness or blurry vision with head movements
    • Frequent falls
    • Vertigo
    • A general dizzy or foggy-headed feeling


    What can you expect during a Vestibular Rehab session?

    A proper vestibular rehab assessment can be quite lengthy but needs to be thorough.

    You can expect:

    • Discussion about the history and nature of your symptoms
    • Screening for a more severe cause of dizziness or unsteadiness
    • Evaluation of eye movements assisted by infrared video-analysis
    • Testing for sensitivity to motion or position change
    • Evaluation of stationary and moving balance
    • Testing other areas that could be contributing, like neck problems or blood-pressure


    Following the assessment, a wide variety of treatment options are available. The treatments can include eye exercises, training to reduce sensitivity, balance challenges, and strategies for dealing with cognitive and psychological impacts.

    The balance retraining done as part of vestibular rehab is also useful for clients who may not have a vestibular problem, but may have orthopedic, sensory, or other brain-related disorders affecting their equilibrium.


    Why is Vestibular Rehab still not widely known?

    Many people that are dealing with the symptoms mentioned above head to their doctor with dizziness and balance issues.  It can be challenging to get to the root cause, and many doctors take a “wait and see” approach or state that there nothing that can be done.

    Some doctors, however, have specialized training in vestibular rehabilitation and are aware that there is more to be considered.

    A typical approach may be to avoid the things that trigger dizziness, but this may slow down recovery.

    Through research, clinical practice guidelines, and position statements from specialists, it is clear that Vestibular Rehab is a viable and beneficial treatment option.  Unfortunately, not enough people are informed of its benefits.


    Now that you are aware of what the vestibular system is, you can be more appreciative and knowledgeable when issues start to present themselves. Vestibular rehab should be your go-to solution if you start to experience the symptoms described here.