Vestibular physiotherapy involves the assessment, diagnosis and management of disorders of the vestibular system.
The vestibular system is made up of the fluid-filled vestibular labyrinth of the inner ear and neural connections. It provides our brains with information about motion and the orientation of our heads in space. Imagine a bowl of water, move it in one direction and the water effectively moves in the opposite way. This is what happens in our inner ear every time we move our heads. Sensory information from the vestibular system, along with information from the eyes, muscles and joints, is processed by our brains, enabling us to balance, stabilise our heads and maintain postures.
Disorders of the vestibular system can result in the following symptoms:
- Dizziness (feeling of light-headedness)
- Vertigo (feeling of the room spinning)
- Poor balance
- Tinnitus (ringing in the ear)
- Hearing loss
- Brain fog (lack of clarity of thought)
- Cognitive changes (difficulty thinking)
Diagnosis of vestibular disorders requires a thorough examination, involving:
- History of symptoms
- Eye movement examination
- Positional testing
- Balance tests
- Motion sensitivity tests
The information gleaned from the examination forms the basis of a treatment plan, tailored to the individuals’ goals.
Physiotherapy management of vestibular disorders involves specific positional treatments and balance retraining, which have been proven to reduce the symptoms and improve quality of life of those who suffer from vestibular disorders.
A vestibular physiotherapist can also assist GPs and specialists such as ear, nose and throat surgeons with diagnosis and treatment planning.
- Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV)
- Age related dizziness & imbalance
- Vestibular migraine
- Head injury or concussion
- Vestibular neuritis or labyrinthitis
- Meniere’s disease