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Vestibular Physiotherapy in Ottawa

Regain your balance and conquer dizziness with our vestibular physiotherapy.

Do you find yourself getting up from your chair or bed and a feeling of overwhelming dizziness rushes over you? Do you find that you have motion sensitivity when doing simple tasks such as driving or cooking? If the answer is yes to any of these questions, you may have a vestibular disorder that can be treated by a Physiotherapist trained in Vestibular Therapy.

What does the Vestibular System Do?

The vestibular system is responsible for eye movements, balance function and spatial awareness. Any damage to the vestibular system causes vestibular disorders, which can include vertigo, balance disorders, a spinning room or imbalanced gait. When trying to perform daily tasks, vestibular disorders can negatively impact our way of life, as well as be a trip and fall hazard. In the long run, it can cause feelings of frustration, decrease quality of life and cause depression. That is why, it is imperative to see a Vestibular Therapy Physiotherapist as soon as symptoms begin to show.

What Are Vestibular Disorders?

Vestibular issues usually arise from inner ear disorders, which are caused by benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV). BPPV is also known as vertigo. Vertigo is the sudden sensation of dizziness. It is caused by crystals in the inner ear being displaced and affecting balance. When movements of the head occur, these crystals displace and cause sudden vertigo. Vestibular problems can also arise from head injuries, infections and diseases, and other inner ear problems.

How does Vestibular Rehab Work?

Vestibular rehabilitation Physiotherapy is manual therapy to help relieve balance disorders. Balance disorders refer to any problem with the vestibular system that can affect balance, posture, and can have serious health risks in the long run. Your Physiotherapist can help you alleviate common symptoms and get you back to normal, by adjusting imbalances to treat common balance disorders, by using specialized services.

Benefits of Vestibular Physiotherapy

Physiotherapists help restore and maintain the health, well-being, mobility, and function of their patients. Anyone with a vestibular system disorder or inner ear disorder can see a health care professional such as a Vestibular Therapy Physiotherapist to help get rid of common symptoms of BPPV.

Vestibular therapy is good for people who have vertigo, who have had a traumatic head injury, those who have had a stroke or those with a concussion. Those also diagnosed with paroxysmal positional vertigo BPPV can also benefit from vestibular therapy.

There are many great benefits to vestibular rehabilitation therapy, some include;

  • Increased balance and stability
  • Decrease in dizziness
  • Improved neck movement
  • Improved eye movement
  • Decrease in nausea
  • Decrease in motion sensitivity
  • Return to normal life and activities

What are the First Steps of Vestibular Physiotherapy?

A Physiotherapist will first assess functioning of the musculoskeletal system and vestibular apparatus and surrounding areas to determine the presence of disease or injury and presence of vestibular disorder symptoms. They will then provide physical therapy for the disease or injury in the form of head and neck exercises designed to replace the crystals in the inner ear to the correct position.

How Long Does it Take to Work?

Like any other mobility or function issue, it may take your body a couple of treatments to see the full results of the work your Physiotherapist has done to provide Vestibular Therapy. In most cases, you will usually feel the results in about 48 hours after the initial treatment.

Following this initial visit, your therapist may suggest you perform certain head movements or exercises to help reduce vertigo or dizziness. However, it may take up to two weeks to see and feel significant improvements, as you continuously see your therapist.

Patients will notice their balance problems starting to disappear and that they are regaining stability in their inner ears. Many patients also notice less dizziness vertigo.

Some active therapies your therapist may suggest to you are vestibular exercises, head position exercises, head movements, gaze stability exercises, balance and eye movements, balance retraining exercises, habituation exercises and other more specific exercises to improve balance function.

How Successful is Vestibular Rehabilitation?

Dating back from the 1930s, vestibular rehabilitation therapy (VRT) has been used for many years to treat benign paroxysmal positional vertigo or paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) and other head trauma and vestibular neuritis.

Recent studies show that patients undergoing vestibular rehabilitation treatment were highly more effective at treating the symptoms compared to a generic exercise program treatment ( Vestibular disorders are treated by practicing specific head and eye movements with your Physiotherapist. Your therapist will also treat your vestibular disorders using effective vestibular rehab services, such as balance retraining exercises designed to eliminate symptoms.

What are the Symptoms of Vestibular Disorders?

The vestibular system is responsible for controlling balance and head movements. If an issue is occurring in the vestibular system, there may be a vestibular disorder or vestibular neuritis present.

There is a broad range of other symptoms that affect people in vestibular disorder including:

  • Motion sensitivity
  • Balance issues
  • Dizziness
  • Room is spinning (Dizziness Vertigo)
  • Nausea
  • Gaze sensitivity related to eye movement and head movements
  • Sensitivity to bright lights
  • Meniere’s disease and acoustic neuroma

In severe cases, difficulty with the ability to form connections and take in sensory information can result.

Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo most often occurs due to changes in the direction of the head or eyes or from moving positions too quickly, which causes feelings of dizziness vertigo.

Do Vestibular Disorders Have Long-Term Consequences?

In some instances, your vestibular disorder can cause feelings or frustration as it starts to interfere with daily tasks, such as driving, walking, exercising, or affect recreational activities. In this case, your quality of life can decrease and mental health can suffer. It is important to see a Physiotherapist as soon as possible to prevent these feelings and to regain your normal routine.

What Types of Exercises Help?

Based on recent studies, patients suffering with vestibular disorders benefitted more from a specific prescribed vestibular exercise program compared to a non-specific exercise program to treat their symptoms (

The most common types of exercise that your health care provider will prescribe to you will all help with your balance disorders. Some of these include vision stability training, adaptation exercises, head movement exercises and posture training.

It may take a couple of sessions to get used to, but you should see results in about two weeks. All these specific prescribed exercises will help regulate feelings of dizziness and instability, allow you to live pain free.

When Should I See a Therapist?

Your vestibular concerns may cause you feelings of overwhelming frustration and dizziness, which can make even the simplest tasks hard. You should see a Vestibular Therapy Physiotherapist as soon as your ability to function in your daily activities is affected due to balance disorders. This form of therapy is the best drug free approach to treating vestibular issues

Can Vestibular Therapy Help With a Concussion?

Vestibular Rehabilitation therapy is one of the best ways to help with a concussion. Since concussions involve injury damages to the head and are therefore in very close proximity to the inner ear, vestibular issues can arise or even greatly limit the ability to heal from a concussion. Vestibular therapy can be helpful in relieving these symptoms. Your head and ears are very interconnected and can have similar symptoms when issues arise in those areas. Your Physiotherapist has the skills to treat both concussions and inner ear injuries or disorders, and relieve symptoms of benign paroxysmal positional vertigo, which can positively affect both vestibular disorders and concussions.

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My whole family are action sports enthusiasts, mountain bikers, competitive skiers, rugby players etc, so stuff happens!  Sarah has brought us back from numerous injuries, from the minor soft tissue damage to traumatic multiple bone break rehabilitation and everything in between.

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