What is Vestibular Rehabilitation?
Vestibular rehabilitation therapy (VRT) is an exercise-based program designed to promote nervous system compensation for inner ear deficits. VRT can help with a variety of vestibular problems both in people with an abrupt loss of vestibular function following surgery and/or trauma as well as individuals with long-term unresolved inner ear disorders. The goals of VRT are
1) to enhance gaze stability,
2) to enhance postural stability,
3) to improve vertigo, and
4) to improve activities of daily living.
Why should I see a physical therapist for dizziness?
If you are dizzy, the cause may be due to an inner ear, or vestibular disorder. Physical therapists often specialize in an area of therapy called vestibular rehabilitation, in which therapists work to improve the symptoms of dizziness and the balance problems that you may also experience.
Much of a therapist’s job is to help get a person moving again and manage the dizziness at the same time. Exercise and performing daily activities are the primary ways of accomplishing this goal. Physical therapists can provide essential coping strategies that make recovery more tolerable. If specific activities or chores around the house cause dizziness, then learning ways to perform them differently may help to keep the dizziness to a minimum. Activities that were simple before the vestibular disorder may become difficult and cause fatigue and dizziness. A therapist can help you work through some of these issues right away and get you moving, and back to a productive life more quickly.
What are my therapy sessions going to be like?
Therapy for vestibular disorders takes many forms. A qualified physical therapist will first perform a thorough evaluation that begins with a medical history and includes observing and measuring posture, balance and gait, and compensatory strategies. The assessment may also include eye-head coordination tests that measure how well a person’s eyes track a moving object with or without head movement. Using the results, 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. The type of exercise utilized depends upon the unique problems that the individual demonstrates during the evaluation. Some exercises are geared toward helping with balance, some with helping the brain resolve differences in the inner ear signals, and some with improving the ability to visually focus. In addition, general exercise is often prescribed to improve overall physical health and well-being.
How soon can I expect to see improvements?
Each patient is unique, so this time frame can vary greatly. Research shows that depending on the severity of your condition, it takes from 2 weeks to a few months of treatment to resolve a vestibular condition. We most often request a frequency of 2-3 times a week for 12 total visits. That is why our office staff will ask you to schedule all 12 of your sessions before starting therapy. If you need more than 12 sessions, your therapist will discuss this with you after you have completed 12 visits and you will decide together whether continuing with therapy would benefit you or not. If so, your therapist will reevaluate you and send a progress note to your physician requesting an extension.
What are the credentials of my physical therapist?
All licensed physical therapists have had to apply and be selected to attend Physical Therapy school. It is a very competitive process and only those will the highest grades and best potential are selected. Doctors of physical therapy have invested a minimum of 7 years into their undergraduate and graduate training at universities. Once they graduate, they have to sit for a State Board Exam and pass to receive their license to practice. In order to keep their license active, they must dedicate a certain number of hours to continuing education each year.
At Anchor Physical Therapy we also require that therapists attend multiple post-graduate continuing education courses every year to stay up to date with latest research and continuously enhance their treatment skills in order to achieve the best possible treatment outcomes for our patients.