Our physiotherapists will screen for vestibular conditions that can be responsible for symptoms of dizziness, nausea, difficulty with gaze stability, involuntary eye movements or vertigo.

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man holding head, in pain, experiencing vertigo, vestibular

What is Vertigo and Vestibular Rehabilitation?

Our physiotherapists will screen for vestibular conditions that can be responsible for symptoms of dizziness, nausea, difficulty with gaze stability (often with reading/phone use, especially in the car/plane or while walking), involuntary eye movements (nystagmus) or vertigo.

Vertigo is a specific kind of dizziness defined as the illusion of the movement occurring in the environment (often described as the room spinning), while dizziness usually refers to a person feeling off-balance/light-headed or disorientated. As there are many causes of dizziness other than the vestibular system, including the cardiovascular system, neurological dysfunction, and visual dysfunction, we will do a thorough history and then a series of assessments to determine whether the vestibular system is contributing to your symptoms. If we do not think the primary contribution is the vestibular system, we will ensure an appropriate referral is made.

Vestibular system disorders are often seen with head trauma (eg: whiplash, concussion), in older individuals, vestibular neuritis (infection), Meniere’s disease or those that have had direct damage through pressure trauma to the ear, acoustic neuroma or ototoxicity. Once we assess your condition, we will prescribe exercises that are specific to your deficit (these may involve vision exercises, vision and head movements, balance and much more) and that can easily be performed at home. 

The most common cause of vertigo is BPPV (Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo), which is often provoked by looking up, lying down flat quickly, bending forward and rolling in bed. It is a biomechanical problem that is assessed in the clinic, and if confirmed to be BPPV, can often be treated in 1-3 vestibular physiotherapy sessions. 

We recommend that you bring a friend or family member with you on your first session, as your symptoms will be provoked during the assessment, which can make driving difficult. 

What does a Vestibular Physiotherapist do?

A vestibular physiotherapist is a specialty-trained physiotherapist who can identify the problem in one’s vestibular (vestibular apparatus), or the sensory mechanism in our inner ears that help us keep our balance when we are walking or moving. A vestibular physiotherapist will make a comprehensive clinical assessment, check the patient’s medical history and symptoms to find out the cause of their vertigo, administer different tests to evaluate the patient’s condition, suggest a therapy that suits you best (manual therapy, or therapeutic exercise, occupational therapy, etc.) create a rehabilitation program that can promote central nervous system compensation through exercise-based practices, and create a program to improve the patient’s symptoms and balance disorders.

The patient will then be advised on how they can control, improve, and adapt to the symptoms of dizziness  or vertigo in their daily life. Part of vestibular rehabilitation therapy is a home exercise program that should be done regularly by the patient. This treatment plan is tailor-made to the patient’s condition and will be prescribed to ease the symptoms of his vestibular disorder. With consistency in performing these exercises, the symptoms should decrease over time, with the goal of resuming regular activities. 

For individuals who are looking for a reliable vestibular physiotherapist in Vancouver or Port Coquitlam, book an appointment with any of our physiotherapists below and let us help you boost your well-being and improve your quality of life.

How long does Vestibular Physiotherapy take?

Patients suffering from vestibular disorders who need to undergo vestibular physiotherapy are usually advised to finish the advised rehab program in about 6 to 8 weeks. Note that there are a couple of factors that need to be considered to see how long a patient should go through vestibular therapy. The number of physical therapy sessions will depend on the diagnosis of the patient, the severity of symptoms, and how the patient reacts to treatment.

What are the most common symptoms of a vestibular disorder?

The most common symptom of a vestibular disorder is dizziness vertigo. The cause of vertigo is due to the dysfunctions in the vestibular structures in the central nervous system. Other symptoms include falling or going off balance, disorientation, having neck pain and  blurred vision, while the uncommon symptoms include vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, and feeling anxiety or a change in one’s heart rhythm.

Is vestibular damage permanent?

There are actually inner-ear infections that can cause permanent vestibular damage. If the inner ear infection is caused by a virus, it will either recover, go dormant, or flare up again. Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV) or positional dizziness is a type of dizziness that is probably caused by labyrinthithis or neuritis. “Neuritis,” is the inflammation of the nerve, while the “labyrinthithis,” is the inflammation of the inner ear or labyrinth, which may result to permanent changes in one’s hearing.

By undergoing a vestibular rehab program, the prevalence of vestibular symptoms such as dizziness and vertigo may be experienced on a daily basis at first, but after a couple more weeks of slow recovery, some patients are completely healed and free of these symptoms. Other patients on the other hand, experience chronic dizziness if the virus has already damaged the vestibular nerve. If the infection is addressed early, then, chances are, the inner ear infections will not cause any permanent damage. This is why it is important that a balance disorder is diagnosed early because it can be a life-changing condition if left untreated.

Physiotherapists Specializing in Vertigo / Vestibular

Jack Liney Team Photo

Jack Liney

Dom Wade Physiotherapist Vancouver

Dominic Wade

Eduardo Naranjo Team Photo

Eduardo Naranjo

Jayde Woo Team Photo

Jayde Woo