Vestibular Rehabilitation : What exactly is the vestibular system and what does it do?


What exactly is the vestibular system and what does it do? Your vestibular system comprises five sensory organs that provide your brain with information about head position and movements including head rotation, linear movements, and static positions of the head relative to gravity. It is basically the body’s balance system in the ear.

What happens when your vestibular system dysfunctions? Some symptoms a person can experience may be dizziness, vertigo, nausea, imbalance, poor gaze stability, and vision disturbance. A common form of dysfunction to the vestibular system is named, “BPPV” which stands for Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo. It is not life-threatening, but it may come in sudden brief spells, can be triggered by different head movements or positions, and can give the affected a false sense of rotational movement.

There are two types of BPPV. One type is where loose crystals can move freely in the fluid of the ear canal. The other, which tends to be rare, is where the crystals are thought to be hung up on a bundle of nerves that can sense the movement of the fluid. 80 per cent of people affected by BPPV are over the age of 65 and have experienced dizziness.

Treatment of BPPV is done by a Vestibular Physiotherapist. At Triangle Physiotherapy, a detailed assessment of the Oculomotor System and Vestibulo-Ocular System will be tested, motion sensitivity testing will be conducted, and a BPPV assessment will be given as well. Your physiotherapist will then determine the cause of your symptoms and apply appropriate treatment which may include: In-clinic physiotherapy and a home exercise program.

Even after the crystals are back in the correct chamber and the spinning sensation has stopped, patients can often feel some mild residual sensitivity to motions and unsteadiness. It is very important to follow up with your vestibular physiotherapist so that they can evaluate and provide home exercise techniques that typically correct the issues promptly.

Triangle Physiotherapy staff aims to make patients rehabilitation experience as comfortable and pleasant as possible. For any consultation regarding BPPV or any other vestibular dysfunction, feel free to visit us at any of our five convenient locations in Canada: Triangle Physiotherapy Etobicoke, Mississauga, Oakville, North York, and Toronto. We follow a “no waiting” policy and appointments are available as soon as the next day!

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