There are many branches of physiotherapy to treat a wide range of ages and ailments, ranging from sports physiotherapy to treat injuries incurred while exercising, to geriatric physiotherapy to treat age-related disorders such as arthritis and incontinence. While less well-known, vestibular physiotherapy is an important branch of physiotherapy to help grant patients a better quality of life. Read on to learn more about it and how you can benefit from a visit to a physiotherapy clinic near you.
What is vestibular physiotherapy?
Vestibular physiotherapy is a branch of physiotherapy that aims to improve and treat symptoms related to peripheral vestibular (inner ear/balance) disorders, as well as those linked to central vestibular disorders, such as strokes and brain tumours. The vestibular system is a sensory system located in our inner ears, and provides information to our brain pertaining to motion, spatial orientation, motor functions, as well as facilitating movement and maintaining equilibrium. Its optimal function is crucial to our general well-being and safety as we move about each day.
Patients with vestibular disorders often experience vertigo, dizziness, visual disturbance, as well as a loss of balance and feelings of passing out. These symptoms usually lead to secondary problems that can greatly impact one’s quality of life, such as nausea and vomiting, constant fatigue, as well as reduced ability to focus or concentrate on tasks, making engaging in even simple daily tasks an arduous affair.
Vestibular physiotherapy adopts a scientific-based approach to analyse a patient’s root causes for their discomfort before treating them. For example, dizziness can be caused due to an inner ear problem, which in turn can be linked to BPPV (a short but intense episode of movement due to a rapid change in head movement), viral infections, or a side effect of migraines. It can also come about from medications, anxiety, neurological conditions, as well as low iron or sugar levels in your blood.
What can I expect from vestibular physiotherapy?
Physiotherapists specialising in vestibular physiotherapy will first arrange for an initial session with you that lasts approximately one hour, where they will review your medical history and thoroughly analyse your movement utilising specialised techniques. These techniques measure your gait, visual stability and movement, as well as your neck mobility, allowing vestibular physiotherapists to put together a personalised treatment program to improve your symptoms and manage functional problems.
Some types of exercises that are utilised by physiotherapists include:
- Posture training
- Walking exercises
- Neck mobility/stretching exercises
- Balance retraining
- Vision stability training
- Repositioning techniques
Each patient’s treatment plans are customised to their own ailments and symptoms. A general treatment plan lasts for 6 to 8 weeks, but it varies based on each patient’s diagnosis, severity of symptoms, as well as how they respond to therapy.
In some cases, vestibular physiotherapy itself is sufficient for treating vestibular problems in some patients; while in other scenarios it can be utilised as part of a more comprehensive treatment plan involving surgery. It has been noted to significantly decrease dizziness and balance issues, empowering patients to confidently live each day with renewed strength and purpose.
Interested in seeking vestibular physiotherapy at a clinic near you? Contact Edge Healthcare to learn more about how we can help alleviate your symptoms today.