18 Feb How Vestibular Therapy Can Help Treat Vertigo: A Complete Guide
Vertigo can be debilitating for the 8 million Americans who suffer from it daily. Read on for our complete guide on how vestibular therapy can help.
According to the Vestibular Disorders Association, 69 million US adults over the age of 40 have experienced the symptoms of a vestibular disorder. What’s more, 80% of people over the age of 65 experience recurring bouts of dizziness and/or vertigo.
Vertigo may not seem like a big deal. But millions of people experience life disturbances due to this often debilitating condition. The good news is that vestibular rehabilitation therapy (VRT) can help.
VRT utilizes exercises to help get you back on your feet and better deal with episodes of vertigo. Have you been searching for a treatment to get rid of pesky vertigo once and for all? Then you need to check out this guide to vestibular therapy now.
What is Vertigo?
Vertigo is a symptom common in vestibular system disorders. These disorders occur when an injury, infection, or some other health condition leads to a disturbance within the inner ear canal.
The inner ear is associated with eye movement. But it’s also responsible for helping you balance, which is why damage to it leads to vertigo.
Symptoms of Vertigo
A case of vertigo can be as seemingly-innocuous as feeling dizzy or getting the sensation that the room is spinning. More severe cases can cause sensory disturbances, nausea, and issues with coordination.
As we mentioned before, vertigo is usually caused by a vestibular system disorder. And vestibular system disruptions are often caused by trauma or disease. However, this isn’t always the case.
Vertigo can also be a symptom of:
· Medication side effects
· Neck dysfunction
· Brain injury
· Heart disease
· Meniere’s syndrome
· Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV)
Because there are so many potential causes of vertigo, it can sometimes be challenging to diagnose. Complicating matters worse is that some people experience a single episode of vertigo throughout their life. And these brief bouts of dizziness often have unknown etiologies.
Potential Treatments for Vertigo
Much about the causes of vertigo is up in the air, but the treatment for it is a little more clear cut. Traditional treatments include medication (prescription or OTC) and physical movements like the Epley maneuver.
Yet few other treatments can compare to the success of vestibular rehabilitation therapy in treating non-BPPV cases of vertigo. Let’s explore this vertigo treatment in depth below.
Vestibular Therapy for Vertigo: What is It, How Does it Work, and Is It Successful?
Vestibular therapy helps treat vertigo in two different ways. It incorporates physical exercise to alleviate the symptoms of a vestibular disorder. Meanwhile, this treatment helps patients learn how to use other senses to function when their vestibular disorder attacks again.
Each patient’s disorder is treated uniquely. But there are three core vestibular therapy methods: habituation, gaze stabilization, and balance training. We explore these below.
The habituation method uses exercises targeted at the symptoms of dizziness and vertigo. Vertigo patients tend to report feelings of dizziness after physical movement and, in some cases, due to changes in their visual field.
Those who report these sensations worsening after moving or, for instance, watching an action film will benefit from habituation exercises. And that’s why this technique uses repeated movements or visuals that cause vertigo.
While habituation might sound like challenging, the science is sound. Repeatedly provoking mild feelings of dizziness or vertigo helps the brain learn to ignore the sensation it receives from the inner ear canal. Eventually, habituation helps reduce the intensity of vestibular disorder symptoms.
Some patients with vertigo report being unable to see clearly during a bout of vertigo. Gaze stabilization helps balance their visual field, even during head and body movements.
Depending on the type and severity of vertigo you experience, your vestibular therapist may recommend one of two types of gaze stabilization:
· Object fixation with repeated head movements
· Visual and somatosensory substitution
This first technique is ideal for mild to moderate forms of vertigo. As its title suggests, you would fixate on a stationary object with your eyes as you move your head side to side or up and down. This helps train the brain and the eyes to inhibit feelings of dizziness during head movements.
The second technique is to help people who have entirely or almost entirely non-functional vestibular systems. These people will never recover the full use of their inner ear. Instead, this technique encourages the brain to use visual cues because the vestibular system is not functioning appropriately.
Balance training is usually the final step in vestibular rehabilitation therapy. This method addresses both balance and coordination. And it’s intended to help a patient overcome dizziness, so they can get back to work and life as usual.
Using moderately challenging exercises, the goal of this method is to improve your natural balance. This may incorporate activities on uneven surfaces and in dimly lit rooms.
Some vestibular therapists will require you to complete further challenges. These might include focusing on visual cues while balancing, performing both stationary and moving balance exercises, and completing other tasks while balancing. All of this is to help improve balance in any condition the patient may experience in real life.
Who Benefits the Most from Vestibular Therapy?
As we mentioned above, BPPV is the only type of vertigo not treatable with vestibular therapy. But other vertigo-causing conditions have been shown to benefit significantly from vestibular rehabilitation. And in most of these cases, vertigo will substantially decrease or even disappear as long as the patient continues to follow the rehabilitation plan.
Where to Find Vestibular Therapy for Vertigo
Are you searching for vestibular therapy to help eliminate your vertigo? Synapse Human Performance Centers in Dallas, Texas can help. Become a patient of our balance/dizziness program today and discover what it’s like to live a life vertigo-free.