Physiotherapy in vestibular rehabilitation
In addition to a postgraduate university degree (master’s) to become a physiotherapist, the physiotherapist expert in vestibular rehabilitation has advanced post-graduate training in the field.
What is vestibular rehabilitation?
Vestibular rehabilitation in physiotherapy treats problems related to the vestibular system. This system is composed of a peripheral sensory organ at the level of the inner ear (semicircular canals, utricle and saccule), of the vestibulo-cochlear nerve (VIIIth cranial nerve) and of structures at the level of the central nervous system.
Roles of the vestibular system
The vestibular system is a complex system that comes into operation when we are in motion, that is, when the body and / or the head move. It performs 3 major roles in our daily life.
First of all, it allows to maintain a clear and sharp vision during the movements of the head by acting on the musculature of the eyes. This allows us, for example, to perform our blind spots in the car without having blurred vision.
Then, it helps to keep the body stable during head movements. This role is played in conjunction with the visual system and the proprioceptive system. It is thanks to this function that it is possible, when walking, to turn the head from right to left without losing balance and falling.
Ultimately, the vestibular system sends information to the brain about our body’s position in space. It is in part this last function that allows us to differentiate whether we are standing or lying down.
Manifestations of impairment of the vestibular system
Disorders of the vestibular system are generally manifested by dizziness and vertigo, by visual disturbances (example: blurred vision), a feeling of postural instability and loss of balance. Vestibular disorders can also be accompanied by nausea and sometimes even vomiting.
What kinds of problems can be treated in vestibular rehabilitation?
The physiotherapist with expertise in vestibular rehabilitation is able to manage the following conditions:
– Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV)
– Unilateral peripheral hypofunctions (Ex .: Labyrinthitis, Ménière’s disease, vestibular neuritis)
– Balance disorders / blurred vision during head movements
– Vertigo of central origin (e.g. vestibular migraine, cerebrovascular accident (stroke), craniocerebral trauma (TBI / concussion))
– Other types of vertigo and dizziness (Ex .: Of cervico-genic origin, orthostatic hypotension)
What does vestibular rehabilitation care consist of?
First, the evaluation by a physiotherapist who is an expert in vestibular rehabilitation will determine the origin of your symptoms. From the first meeting, the physiotherapist will be able to inform you if physiotherapy is right for you. If not, he will be able to direct you to the right professional.
The objectives as well as the modalities of physiotherapy treatment in vestibular rehabilitation will vary depending on the problem. Among the techniques used, there will be mobilizations of the head in various positions and directions in order to release and / or reposition the crystals which have become lodged in the semicircular canals. We also find different balancing exercises as well as visual exercises.