Services - Vestibular Physiotherapy
Vestibular Rehabilitation

What is Vestibular Rehabilitation?

Vestibular rehabilitation is the assessment and treatment of certain conditions that can cause dizziness. Dizziness is a general term; individuals with dizziness may feel more specific symptoms such as vertigo (their environment spinning), light headedness, floating or feeling off-balance.

What is Vertigo?

Vertigo is the sensation of your environment spinning around you or your head spinning. A majority of patients with vertigo symptoms experience this form of dizziness because of an error message from the inner ear (where the vestibular system is) to the brain.

What causes vertigo?

There are two very common causes of vertigo:

  • Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV)
  • Labyrinthitis or Vestibular Neuritis secondary to a viral inner ear infection.

How is Vertigo treated?

A physiotherapist who specializes in vestibular rehabilitation will perform a detailed examination. In order to assess vertigo caused by the conditions of the inner ear, we use goggles with an infrared camera to clearly observe if the patient is experiencing nystagmus (uncontrolled eye movement). Nystagmus is an indicator of whether an error message is present. Treatment may include a canalith repositioning maneuver such as the Epley maneuver if the patient is experiencing BPPV. The canalith repositioning maneuver is a safe and effective way to treat positional vertigo. (1) If the vertigo symptoms are because of a viral inner ear infection the patient may benefit from specific exercises designed to strengthen the vestibular system after it was temporarily weakened by the virus. (2)

What if my dizziness is not caused by my inner ear?

A detailed assessment will be performed by the physiotherapist and if your symptoms will not benefit from vestibular therapy, then you may be referred to your family physician for further medical follow up.

Can issues with my neck cause dizziness?

In some cases, dizziness may be the result of biomechanical issues in your cervical spine which will be treated with manual therapy and specific rehabilitation exercises.

  1. Effectiveness of the Canalith Repositioning Procedure in the Treatment of Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo Janet O. Helminski PHYS THER October 2014 94:1373-1382
  2. Yardley L, Donovan-Hall M, Smith HE, Walsh BM, Mullee M, Bronstein AM. 2004. Effectiveness of primary care-based vestibular rehabilitation for chronic dizziness. Annals of internal medicine 141: 598-60