Vestibular Rehabilitation Therapy (VRT) is a word that many people can’t pronounce, let alone know what it is. Yet, this treatment can help those who suffer from balance disorders.
Alpine Ear, Nose, and Throat provide comprehensive, high-quality ear, nose and throat care to you and to your family. We offer audiology, allergy, and vestibular therapy, as well as general ENT services and facial plastics. Our board-certified ear doctors care about your well-being. Below, we’ll explore more about what is vestibular therapy and how it can help you. Contact us today to get started!
WHAT IS VESTIBULAR REHABILITATION THERAPY?
For such a long word, it’s not all that complicated. Vestibular Rehabilitation Therapy is taken from the vestibular system in our bodies. The vestibular system is the system in our body that is responsible for telling our brain what is going on with our bodies with regards to motion, head position, and spatial orientation. It also is intimately involved with our balance, motor functions, stabilization as we move, and our posture. The vestibular system sends signals that control eye movements and that help keep us upright. In short, the vestibular system is integral to our daily movements. The name comes from the Latin word “vestibulum,” which means forecourt or entrance. Your ear is the entrance, so to speak, to these functions.
So what does the vestibular system have to do with the ear? The vestibular system is part of the inner ear, made up of the semicircular canals and the otolith organs, which contain the receptors for the vestibular sensations. All of these connect to nerves and nuclei in the brain whereby the information is passed.
Thus, Vestibular Rehabilitation Therapy (VRT) is a therapy that targets this system in your ear that affects balance and can cause dizziness. It’s an exercise-based program designed by your ear doctor or physical therapist that can improve balance and dizziness.
Dizziness itself is quite common and affects Americans more as they age. In fact, it is estimated that 35% of adults over age 40 have experienced some form of vestibular dysfunction. Dizziness not only is unnerving as you see the room spin around you, but it can be a major cause of falls that result in severe injury or death. While there are many causes of dizziness, such as vertigo, dehydration, and medications, treatment depends on the underlying cause, from medications and drinking water to VRT.
WHAT HAPPENS DURING VRT?
It’s important to note that VRT is used for inner ear deficits, not temporary problems. These include benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV), unilateral or bilateral vestibular hypofunction, and other ear disorders. When people can’t recover on their own from dizziness and more, VRT is often needed. The problem becomes that your body will automatically try to compensate for your vestibular system not working properly by using your eyes, muscles, and joints more. You may begin to develop different movement patterns in an attempt to keep dizziness at bay, or focus your eyes on the floor constantly. With VRT, you are trying to retrain your brain to process signals from the vestibular system.
First, you will undergo a thorough evaluation by your physical therapist who will observe your movement patterns, including your posture, balance, and gait. They will also be on the lookout for any compensatory movements you may be making. Your eyes and posture will be tested using various methods and systems. Then, once the results are in, a treatment plan for you will be implemented that includes specific exercises to help retrain your brain. These movements often involve the head, body, and eye.
VRT may exacerbate your symptoms in the beginning as your brain tries to figure out what is going on. However, if you stick with it, most people report diminished symptoms and an altogether disappearance of dizziness, nausea, and vertigo. A lot of the exercises are done at home, so it’s important to stay faithful to the treatment.
CHOOSE ALPINE EAR, NOSE & THROAT IN FORT COLLINS FOR VRT
Alpine Ear, Nose & Throat has two offices in Fort Collins and Loveland to conveniently serve you. Our physical therapists have years of experience in helping people who suffer from various vestibular conditions, including dizziness and vertigo. We understand how troublesome and worrisome it can be if you are suffering from a vestibular condition, especially if you have fallen as a result. We encourage you to call today and schedule a consultation with our caring and compassionate physical therapists to learn how we can help.
Alpine Ear, Nose & Throat in Fort Collins and Loveland offers many services to help you, including hearing loss, swallowing problems, sinus and nasal disorders, and head and neck cancers. Our team of physicians, physical therapists, audiologists, and physician’s assistants can get you to feeling better soon. Contact us today to get started!