May 08, 2016

Vestibular Physiotherapy

By Jennifer Shiflet McConvey, PT, DPT
What is a Vestibular Disorder?
Do you experience dizziness, balance problems or vertigo?  If so, you are not alone.  It is estimated that at least half of the overall U.S. population is affected by a balance or vestibular disorder sometime during their lives.  On a daily basis, we utilize 3 systems to balance:  vision, sensory and vestibular (inner ear).  When an individual experiences a disruption in the vestibular system, they could have difficulty with balance and/or dizziness.  Some of the more common symptoms of vestibular dysfunction are vertigo (spinning sensation), dizziness(lightheadedness or floating sensation), imbalance (frequent falls or difficulty walking in a straight line), visual difficulties (inability to focus or track, sensitivity to light or moving objects, nausea when reading), hearing changes and difficulty concentratingMost Common Vestibular Dysfunction Diagnoses.
  • benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV)
  • post-concussion syndrome
  • unilateral vestibular hypofunction (vestibular neuritis, labyrinthitis)
  • bilateral vestibular hypofunction (ototoxicity, vestibular deficits secondary to head trauma and aging)
  • Meniere’s Disease.
Vestibular Rehabilitation Therapy (VRT)?
Vestibular Rehabilitation Therapy utilizes evidence-based interventions to "retrain" the brain to properly process input from the vestibular, visual and sensory systems.  By doing VRT, your brain will learn how to reduce faulty or incorrect signals leading to balance and vestibular disturbances.  VRT improves vestibular function through mechanisms of adaptation, habituation or substitution.  Once the brain begins to improve recognizing and processing input properly, patients will see their symptoms begin to improve.
Benefits of VRT
  • a reduction in feelings of dizziness and vertigo
  •  improvements in standing balance and steadiness when ambulating leading to a reduction in falls
  • improved coordination and ability to adapt to perturbations or challenges to balance
  • reduction of headaches, double or blurred vision
  • improved ability to concentrate and read without experiencing vertigo
Are you suffering from inner ear dysfunction?
  • Do you experience dizziness or vertigo?
  • Do certain movements, positions, or environments provoke your dizziness?
  • When the symtoms are present, how would you best describe them?
    • imbalance
    • environment spinning
    • feeling that you are spinning
    • lightheadedness
    • swimming or floating
    • headache
    • nausea & vomiting
    • blurred or double vision
Have you fallen or stumbled in the past 6-12 months secondary to dizziness/symptoms?
  • Do you have difficulty walking in a straight line?  If so, what best describes your symptoms?
  • unsteadiness
  • feeling that ou are being pulled to one side
  • spinning sensation
 Are your symptoms provoked by any of the following?
  • turning over in bed or looking down or up overhead
  • turning your head to look at something to the side of you
  • walking in dark rooms, at night or on uneven surfaces
  • moving your head to look at objects while walking
  • watching moving objects in periphery
  • being in crowded areas or supermarkets
  • watching television or reading
Jennifer Shiflet McConvey, PT, DPT is a physiotherapist in the Toronto area with multiple years of experience in vestibular and concussion physiotherapy. If you suffer from a vestibular disorder or feel that you may have a vestibular disorder, call Lemon Water Wellness today for a consultation with Jennifer.