Individuals with vestibular—inner ear— disorders often experience problems with balance and dizziness (vertigo) that occurs by changing positions and occasionally have nausea, vomiting or headaches associated with dizziness. These primary symptoms are often accompanied by secondary symptoms associated with reduced activity levels.
These symptoms affect a person’s ability to change positions such as lying down, looking up or bending over. Even moderate dizziness may be debilitating enough to diminish quality of life, reduce employability, and complicate all aspects of life.
A common approach for managing such symptoms in the primary care environment is to prescribe medication that suppresses vestibular function or anti-nausea pills. However, in the long term, such suppressants can interfere with the vestibular and neurological system to make necessary adaptations for recovery. In addition, many of these medications cause drowsiness that may limit a person’s ability to be active.
Vestibular rehabilitation is a specialized form of physical therapy designed to alleviate both primary and secondary symptoms of vestibular disorders. It involves specific exercises that can eliminate or significantly reduce symptoms by promoting central nervous system compensation for inner-ear deficits without the use or greatly limiting the use of medications.
Exercises vary depending on the type of inner-ear disorder and the associated symptoms. During your first visit with your vestibular physical therapist, he or she will diagnose the cause of your vertigo and begin vestibular rehabilitation. This will entail visits to the physical therapist and specific daily home exercises to improve your quality of life by getting you back to your daily activities.