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  • Writer's pictureEngage PT, OT, SLP Therapy and Wellness

What is vestibular therapy? How can PT help with dizziness?

Updated: Jun 18, 2023

world is spinning

There are three components that make up our balance system: vision, somatosensory, and the inner ear, or vestibular system.

The visual system processes light through the eyes, which then sends information to the brain that provides visual cues to sense where we are in relation to the world around us.

The somatosensory system includes our body’s ability to feel the surface we are in contact with and sense where we are in space. This is made up of receptors on our skin, joints, and muscles that are sensitive to movement of the surrounding tissues. The joints in our neck help us sense head movement and head position. There are also sensors in our feet and ankles that help us sense the surface we are standing on.

Our inner ear, or vestibular system, provides information about our head position in space. Our inner ear is made up of semicircular canals that detect rotational movements, and otolith organs that detect linear movements. When the vestibular organs on both sides of the head are functioning properly, they send symmetrical information to the brain.

Our body uses the information from all three systems to help us maintain our balance. Issues can arise when one system becomes impaired and then the body begins to rely on the other systems too heavily. Decreased muscle strength or endurance can also lead to balance issues.

The goal of vestibular therapy is to decrease dizziness and improve your balance by addressing each component of your balance system. Your physical therapist will complete an assessment and determine what impairments are present, then prescribe exercises to improve your vestibular function. It is essential that your exercise program is specifically tailored to your impairments to ensure your best chance of recovery.

Exercises completed in vestibular therapy can include repositioning maneuvers, quick motions of your eyes and head, and challenging your balance in a variety of ways. Some exercises that you complete in vestibular rehabilitation will cause you to temporarily feel more dizzy. This increase in dizziness provides important information to your brain to help it learn how to adapt and habituate to the dizziness, so in the future you can complete the activity without provoking symptoms.

Vestibular physical therapy can help you decrease your dizziness and return to completing your regular activities without symptoms. The physical therapists at Engage have completed vestibular training and are able to identify and treat vestibular conditions.

Are you experiencing dizziness or vertigo? The physical therapists at Engage are here to help! Give the office a call at 315-810-2423 to set up an appointment today!!

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