Vestibular therapy, sometimes referred to as vestibular rehabilitation therapy, or VRT, is a specialized, noninvasive treatment designed to help individuals overcome chronic dizziness and vertigo caused by inner ear disorders. The therapy consists of various exercises designed to improve visual orientation, ocular motor skills, balance, and gait. Evidence has shown that vestibular rehabilitation can be effective in improving symptoms related to many vestibular (inner ear/balance) disorders.
Patients that are referred for vestibular rehabilitation therapy are usually diagnosed with dizziness, imbalance, vertigo, syndrome, benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV), neck-related dizziness and migraines. Common symptoms that can be helped with vestibular rehabilitation include:
- Dizziness or blurry vision with head movements
- Neck tightness, stiffness and/or pain
- Imbalance or the need to hold onto objects when walking
- Frequent falls
- Generalized “dizziness, wooziness and foggy head” feelings
At your appointment, a physical therapist will evaluate your symptoms and review your medical history. Your assessment will include all or part of the following areas:
- Balance and/or leg strength/flexibility
- Gait (how you walk)
- Visual stability and mobility
- Neck mobility and neck and arm strength
- Positional testing, including an inner ear exam
The goal of Vestibular Rehabilitation Therapy is to use a problem-oriented approach to promote compensation. This is achieved by customizing exercises to address each person’s specific problem(s). Based on the findings, a plan of care is developed. The goal of your treatment plan is to improve any deficits that were identified. This, in turn, will improve your ability to function in activities of everyday living, reduce your risk for falling and ultimately, improve your quality of life.
For example, a person with BPPV may undergo a canal repositioning exercise for the spinning s/he experiences, whereas, someone with gaze instability and dizziness due to vestibular neuritis (a deficit from a weakened inner ear) may be prescribed gaze stability and habituation exercises, and if the dizziness affects their balance this may also include balance exercises.
At Oahu Spine and Rehab we are here to help with your Vestibular needs in order for you to return to previous level of function. Please contact us for a Complimentary Consultation today!
1.) McDonnell MN, Hillier SL. Vestibular rehabilitation for unilateral peripheral vestibular dysfunction. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2015, Issue 1. Art. No.: CD005397. DOI:
2.) Herdman SJ, Clendaniel RA. eds. Vestibular Rehabilitation. 4th ed. Philadelphia: F.A. Davis Co.; 2014.