WHAT IS VESTIBULAR REHABILITATION?
Vestibular Rehabilitation is a specific set of exercises and strategies designed to help people resolve or cope with symptoms related to dizziness and/or vertigo. Exercises may include head positioning techniques, balance training, stretching/strengthening, and vision/gaze stability. Education about the patient's specific diagnosis is very important in understanding recovery rates, this is an integral part of Vestibular Rehab.
DIZZINESS VS VERTIGO:
Dizziness and vertigo are not the same thing, yet are often used interchangeably. It is very important to know the difference in order to make the most accurate diagnosis.
Dizziness: a subjective phenomenon used to describe a variety of sensations (light headed, swaying, disorientation etc). Spinning inside your head.
Vertigo: a specific type of dizziness defined as the illusion of movement occurring around you ('the spins'). Acute, short episodes, caused by inner ear vestibular dysfunction.
CAUSES OF DIZZINESS/VERTIGO:
Cardiovascular - low blood pressure
Visual dysfunction - vision processing errors
Vestibular System Disorders - inner ear
Vestibular degeneration (ie. elderly)
Head trauma (concussion/falls)
Neuritis (inflammation of inner ear nerve)
BPPV (loose crystals in the inner ear)
Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo. In simple terms,this occurs when the small crystals of your inner ear that detect how and where our head is moving become loose and slip into the inner ear canals where they shouldn't be. With these crystals floating around they send false signals to our brain telling us we are moving when in reality we are not. This sensation gives us "the spins" and the illusion that the room and objects are moving. These symptoms are usually brought on with quick head movements like lying down, or looking up and are short lived. It is a mismatch and confusion in our brain, we know we aren’t moving but our brain is receiving input that we are, this is what makes us feel uncomfortable.
But which of the 3 inner ear canals are the crystals in? Often this condition is misdiagnosed or is treated with the hope that the crystals are in the most common canal. This is where our knowledge and specific assessment techniques are invaluable. We can accurately diagnose where the crystals have been dislodged to, if at all, in order to provide the most appropriate treatment. When assessed and treated the proper way, these symptoms can be resolved fairly quickly.