Vestibular rehabilitation is the treatment of vestibular dysfunction which will typically result in a feeling of unsteadiness or imbalance causing problems with walking and increasing the risk of falls. The vestibule is a group of structures in the inner ear which are responsible for sensing head and body position& movement. The vestibule sends signals to the brain which is integrated with vision and proprioception (body awareness) to allow you to move effectively through your environment.
General vestibular dysfunction can occur with BPPV, age related degeneration, repetitive infections, or a variety of other neurological causes.
BPPV can occur spontaneously or as a result of head trauma. BPPV occurs when structures called otoconia migrate within the vestibule, causing abnormally strong signals to be sent to the brain with normal head movements. For example, looking upwards may cause someone with BPPV to experience a strong sensation of spinning, likely with nausea and fear of falling or actual falls. BPPV is easily assessed and treated with a series of head tilting and body maneuvers. Research has shown that there is a 98% success rate within three treatment sessions for BPPV.
Vestibular dysfunction is not readily repairable but can be compensated for by improvement in eye movement and proprioception. A specific exercise program of eye movements and balance training will assist in the sensation of imbalance and decrease the risk of falling.