vestibular rehabilitation treats dizziness

As a physical therapist, specialties can be important. One of the specialties that you may focus on is vestibular rehabilitation. This is a movement based program that is designed to aid in improving balance and reducing problems that occur as a result of dizziness.

Statistics That Indicate Increased Demand for Vestibular Rehabilitation Services

According to information pulled from medical records and facilities, approximately 90 million people in the United States – or 42% of the total population – experience a bout of dizziness at least one time, per lifetime.

Out of these individuals, many will go on to experience permanent-based deficits with their balance and/or functional-based limitation.

Nearly half of all instances where dizziness is experienced is believed to be in direct correlation to a vestibular-based disorder.

As a result of this fact, the demand for vestibular rehabilitation physical therapists is exceptionally high.

If you opt for this specialty, you are sure to discover a wide assortment of career opportunities.

woman who is dizzy

Definitions and Causes of Dizziness

Dizziness is a medical term that is utilized to describe a broad range of sensations. It may be described as “unsteadiness”, “lightheadedness”, “feeling faint”, “feeling as if everything is spinning”, “whirling”, “floating”, “swaying”, and even “tilting”. In some instances, dizziness creates a sense that the surroundings are moving or spinning. This is referred to as “vertigo”.

While dizziness – in and of itself – is not typically considered to be a serious medical issue, it often results from a mechanical issue within the body. Causes often include medication side effects, dysfunction in the neck, or an inner ear issue.

In some instances, serious issues involving the heart and/or the brain may be the culprit.

As a vestibular rehabilitation physical therapist, you will work with a patient that has a dizziness issue and create an exercise program that will aid in their recovery, based on the underlying cause of the condition. \

While many physical therapists may be required to assist in determining the underlying cause of the dizziness, it is more common for a medical doctor to establish the underlying cause prior to a patient being referred to a vestibular physical therapist.

Your services may or may not include being a part of the team that makes the official diagnosis; however, you will provide services that will aid in the resolution of the issue and the optimization of the patient’s health.

medical evaluation

The Evaluation Process

When working in vestibular rehabilitation, you will be responsible for performing an evaluation of the patients that you serve.

This starts with a review of the individual’s medical history and a thorough review of the symptoms that the patient experiences.

You will then perform an assessment of the patient’s gait, their balance, their overall strength, the strength of their legs, their flexibility, their visual-based stability, their general level of mobility, perform positional testing, and other tests, as deemed necessary as you complete the evaluation process.

Once the evaluation process is completed, you will then initiate a plan of care, based on all that you have discovered during the initial appointment.

The final goal of this plan of care should be to help the patient improve in any areas of deficits that you discovered. This will help in functional-based improvements, balance, mobility, flexibility, and will help in the reduction of the patient’s fall risk.

Vestibular rehabilitation will not only aid in the healing and optimization of the body, but it will also drastically increase the overall quality of life that the patient experiences.

Candidates for Vestibular Therapy

There are many ideal candidates that will benefit immensely from vestibular therapy. These include – but are not limited to – the following:

  • Those suffering from dizziness
  • Patients with balance issues
  • Vertigo sufferers
  • Individuals with Meniere’s syndrome
  • People who have neck-related issues
  • Migraine sufferers
  • People who have been diagnosed with benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV)
  • Stroke patients
  • Individuals with brain injuries
  • Those that experience frequent falls

Vestibular Rehabilitation Program Details

Once a patient initiates a vestibular rehabilitation program, you will train them in a large assortment of exercises.

Typically, each program will be tailored to the patient – which means that no two are exactly alike. The exercises that you include a patient’s program will be dependent upon the unique deficits in which they suffer.

The patient will perform the exercises with you and should be encouraged to continue the exercises at home, on their own – if it is safe for them to do so.

The program will typically last up to 8 weeks, with 1 or 2 sessions performed weekly. For patients with severe issues, the program may last longer.

The following outlines some examples of activities that may be included in the rehabilitation program:

  • Balance Training Exercises
  • Ergonomic Training
  • General Fitness Training
  • Neck Training Exercises
  • Posture Training Exercises
  • Strengthening Exercises
  • Stretching Exercises
  • Vision Stability Training Exercises

Vestibular Disorders

Patients that suffer from vestibular disorders may experience a wide array of complications that negatively impact the overall quality of life and may result in issues in daily living.

Not only do these types of disorders have a detrimental impact on physiological health, but they may have an impact on psychological health – resulting in high levels of stress, anxiety, and depression. By becoming a vestibular rehabilitation physical therapist, you have the capability of providing a boost to the physical and mental wellbeing of your patients.

Let Us Help

You can enjoy a multitude of career opportunities in vestibular rehabilitation therapy. Today, you can join our large network of physical therapists and connect to a vast array of those opportunities. Let us help you kickstart the career of your tomorrows.

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