Vestibular Rehabilitation Therapy (VRT)

What is vestibular rehabilitation?

Vestibular rehabilitation is an active and exercise-based program, designed by a specialty-trained vestibular physical therapist, to improve balance and reduce problems related to dizziness.


What is the vestibular system?

The vestibular system compromises five sensory organs that provide your brain with information about head position and movements. The five organs include three semicircular canals and two otoliths (the saccule and utricle). This system, there is one on each side, is also termed the ‘inner ear’ as it is connected to the cochlea which is part of the hearing mechanism. The vestibular system provides information to your brain about head rotational movements, linear movements as well

as static positions of the head relative to gravity.


What is dizziness?

Dizziness can be described as:

  • Feelings of unsteadiness

  • Wooziness (swimming feeling in head)

  • Lightheadedness

  • Feelings of passing out

  • Sensations of moving

  • Spinning

  • Floating

  • Swaying

  • Tilting

  • Whirling (sensations known as vertigo)

These feelings or sensations can occur when you are standing still, lying down or changing positions. The symptoms can be constant or episodic in nature, only lasting seconds, minutes or hours.

What can cause dizziness?

Each year, more than 10 million patients visit a physician due to dizziness. It is the most common complaint of patients over the age of 75, but it can occur in patients of any age.

Dizziness is generally not serious, but is often a sign of a mechanical problem. Dizziness can be due to an inner ear disorder, a side effect of medications, a sign of neck dysfunction, or it can be due to a more serious problem such as a brain or a heart problem

What can I expect at an appointment?

At your appointment, a physical therapist will evaluate your symptoms and review your medical history. Your assessment will include all or part of the following areas:

  • Balance and/or leg strength/flexibility

  • Gait (how you walk)

  • Visual stability and mobility

  • Neck mobility and neck and arm strength

  • Positional testing, including an inner ear exam

Based on the findings, a plan of care is developed. The goal of your treatment plan is to improve any deficits that were identified. This, in turn, will improve your ability to function in activities of everyday living, reduce your risk for falling and ultimately, improve your quality of life.


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What conditions can Vestibular Rehabilitation Therapy help?

  • BPPV  / positional vertigo / loose crystals in the ear

  • Vestibular Neuritis 

  • Labyrinthitis 

  • Unilateral Vestibular Loss (UVL)

  • Bilateral Vestibular Loss (BVL) 

  • Visual-vestibular mismatch

  • Any kind of balance issues (ie. age-related, stroke-related, etc.)

  • Meniere's Disease

  • Post-Concussion Syndrome

  • Postural Disorders

  • Motion Sickness