What Does A Vestibular Physio Do?

What Does A Vestibular Physio Do?
Learn More About Vestibular Rehabilitation

Do you suffer from vertigo and unexpected dizzy spells that stop you dead in your tracks?  This debilitating vestibular condition affects far more people than you would think.  The good news is vestibular physiotherapy can give them precious relief and allow them to get back to doing what they enjoy in life.

For the uninitiated, vestibular physiotherapy is a specialty of physiotherapy that is primarily concerned with diagnosing and treating disorders related to balance and vertigo that stem from the inner ear. 

Experts in this field, commonly vestibular physiotherapists, possess proficiency in distinct evaluation and treatment approaches in vestibular rehabilitation. They are proficient in recognizing problems associated with feeling lightheaded. Vertigo and swallowing are prepared to provide efficient therapies to mitigate these symptoms.

What Is The Vestibular System?

The vestibular organ, its neuronal connections to the brain, and the brain regions that interpret its signals are all parts of the vestibular system.  

This inner ear system functions as a sensory mechanism, sending information about motion, head orientation, and spatial placement to the brain. 

It is essential for maintaining balance and stabilizing vision during head movements.  

Three semicircular canals within the vestibular organ provide information regarding rotational motions to the brain, such as head tilts and turns. 

The Inner Ear - Can you see the vestibular nerve (top right)?

It also has two otolithic organs, which provide information to the brain regarding linear movements, such as up and down or forward and backward. 

The vestibular system plays a critical role in balance and gaze stability, which is fixing the eyes on a single location.

What Can Go Wrong With The Vestibular System? Can It Trigger Vertigo Symptoms For Me?

Vestibular disorders and symptoms like vertigo, balance problems, and dizziness can be caused by several illnesses.  The conditions listed below are some of the most common ones associated with these symptoms and can be treated with a tailored vestibular rehabilitation treatment plan:

  • Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV)
  • Labyrinthitis and Vestibular Neuritis
  • Acoustic Neuroma
  • Meniere’s Disease
  • Vestibular Migraine
  • Persistent Postural-Perceptual Dizziness (PPPD)
  • Post-Concussion Syndrome
  • Balance and Fall Prevention Strategies

Identifying Vestibular System as the Source of Dizziness: What to Look For

Symptoms indicative of a vestibular issue often manifest primarily as vertigo, a deceptive feeling of spinning or rotating despite being stationary.  

Additional signs that could point to a vestibular disorder include sensations of dizziness and experiences of instability or compromised balance. 

Vestibular physiotherapists specialise in meticulously evaluating and diagnosing individuals suffering from these symptoms of dizziness, vertigo, and balance difficulties.

Vestibular physios have extensive training in the vestibular system and evidence-based treatment approaches for resolving symptoms of vertigo and loss of balance.

rehabilitation movement bppv assessment migraine
You don't have to put up with dizzy spells - vestibular physio can be an effective remedy for dizziness and vertigo symptoms

What to Anticipate During Your Vestibular Physiotherapy Session?

During your first visit, the vestibular physiotherapist will inquire in-depth about your specific condition, vestibular disorders, any pertinent medical history, and potential contributing factors.  The physical evaluation typically involves various balance tests and specific vestibular examinations which may require you to wear Frenzel goggles (depending on your symptoms). 

These goggles are equipped with an infrared camera to observe your eye movements.  This rehabilitation assessment is crucial because the vestibular system is directly linked to the muscles that control eye position, normally working to stabilise vision.  Thus, any irregular signals from the vestibular system can be detected by analyzing eye movements.

After reaching a diagnosis, the vestibular physiotherapist will discuss the results with you and outline the appropriate vestibular rehabilitation approach.  The vestibular rehabilitation process will begin during this initial session.

Future vestibular appointments will always begin with a reassessment to track your recovery progress, and then you will receive ongoing treatment relevant to your condition & rehabilitation.  The number and frequency of these follow-up vestibular meetings vary based on the particulars of each case. 

For example, BPPV disorders often only require one or two follow-up visits, whereas more chronic illnesses, such as vestibular neuritis or labyrinthitis, may require several follow-up vestibular rehabilitation consultations.

Arriving For The Appointment

For patients initial physiotherapy session, please plan to arrive 10 minutes early to fill out a brief questionnaire regarding your vestibular issue and vertigo symptoms.  It’s also important to bring any relevant documents associated with your injury.  These might encompass medical scans, reports, records of previous treatments, letters from doctors, and other related materials about your vertigo symptoms.

Initial Consultation

Assessment: In your consultation, we will engage in a detailed discussion about your condition, delving into your medical history, any factors that may have contributed to the injury, and your personal rehabilitation goals.  A thorough examination will be conducted to accurately diagnose the issue.  This examination may include hands-on physical tests specific to the injured part, as well as functional assessments relevant to your injury type, such as arm reaching for shoulder issues, bending for back injuries, or using a treadmill for leg-related injuries.

Treatment: Following the assessment, we will share our diagnostic findings with you and present a range of proven treatment options for your specific condition.  The treatment will begin immediately, incorporating “hands-on” physiotherapy methods aimed at alleviating pain and restoring mobility, along with tailor-made exercises designed to heal the injury and prevent its recurrence.  Additionally, you will receive access to an online exercise program with photos and videos to guide you through your recovery process.

Follow-up Consultations

The majority of vertigo issues necessitate several follow-up patients visits to persist with the “hands-on” therapy and advance your exercise regimen.  These sessions are crucial for ensuring a complete and timely recovery from your vertigo symptoms, facilitating your return to preferred activities, and helping you accomplish your objectives. 

The frequency and number of these follow-up patients appointments vary based on individual cases, and we are always available to discuss this with you in detail.

It’s important to note that vertigo symptoms may recur if they are not thoroughly treated.  Embracing a proactive approach to prevention, we are committed to equipping you with strategies and techniques to minimise the likelihood of experiencing the same or similar vertigo symptoms in the future—our philosophy centres on treating the present vertigo symptoms and preventing future occurrences.

What Does a Vestibular Physio Do?

A vestibular physiotherapist focuses on diagnosing and rehabilitation of disorders related to balance and dizziness, primarily stemming from issues within the inner ear’s vestibular system.

This vestibular system is crucial for maintaining balance and spatial orientation. The role of a vestibular physio involves several key responsibilities:

Assessment

The physiotherapist thoroughly assesses the patient’s symptoms and medical history. This evaluation often includes specific tests for balance, gait analysis, and eye movement tracking to understand the underlying cause of the dizziness or balance issues.

Diagnosis

Based on the assessment, the therapist diagnoses the specific vestibular condition. Common conditions treated include benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV), Meniere’s disease, labyrinthitis, and vestibular neuritis.

Treatment Plan Development

The therapist designs a personalised treatment & rehabilitation plan that may include exercises to improve balance, coordination, and gaze stability.  Techniques often involve head and eye movements that help retrain and rehabilitation of the vestibular system.

Rehabilitation

Vestibular physiotherapy includes rehabilitation exercises that aim to reduce symptoms of vertigo and dizziness, improve balance, and enhance overall mobility and quality of life.

Education

The therapist educates the patient about their condition, treatment procedures, and strategies to manage symptoms at home and continue to progress their vestibular rehabilitation.

Follow-up Care

Regular follow-ups are conducted to monitor progress and adjust the treatment & rehabilitation plan as needed.

Looking For More Information On Vestibular Rehabilitation?

Reach Out For An Assessment If Vestibular Rehabilitation Sounds Right For You

You don’t have to put up with dizziness disorders any longer – the issue is more common than you think and very treatable.  Our trained & experienced vestibular rehabilitation physio can help you regain your sense of balance & get back to doing the things you enjoy in life. 

Please schedule an appointment at Rosanna Physio with Jack here or call us on (03) 4514 0975 to learn more information about the root cause of your dizziness & loss of balance and start taking the first steps to a more confident and balanced lifestyle.

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