Improving Balance with Vestibular Rehabilitation
The vestibular system is a sensory system that contributes to your sense of balance and spatial orientation. If the brain cannot rely on the information it receives from the vestibular system, your ability to maintain posture and coordinate balance can become overly dependent on vision or on the information received from the muscles and joints. If your vestibular system is not working properly you lose proprioception - the sense of the relative position of neighboring parts of the body and strength of effort being employed in movement.
Vestibular rehabilitation (also known as balance therapy) is a specialized form of physical therapy designed to decrease dizziness, improve balance and increase general activity. In addition, vestibular rehabilitation can help with fall prevention and vertigo.
When do you need vestibular rehab?
If you have any of the symptoms below, you may benefit from physical therapy testing and treatment for vestibular and balance problems:
- A spinning sensation
- Balance problems
- Focusing problems
- Blurry vision
- Difficulty walking
What to expect from vestibular rehabilitation
The physical therapist will complete a detailed evaluation. Using the results of this evaluation, the therapist will develop an individualized treatment plan that includes specific head, body and eye exercises to be performed both in the therapy setting and at home. Many times, treatment may include increasing activities and exercise in order to strengthen muscles and increase tolerance for movements that cause the symptoms.
At first, some of the exercise and activities may cause an increase in symptoms as the body and brain attempt to sort out the new pattern of movements. But with time and consistent practice, coordination of signals from the eyes, muscles, and vestibular system can occur leading to the ability to improve.