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Vestibular Physiotherapy

What is vestibular physiotherapy?

Vestibular physiotherapy is a specialised area of physiotherapy which focuses on the way the balance systems work together. In particular, this includes the visual, vestibular, and somatosensory balance systems. When one system does not work properly, a person may experience dizziness, vertigo, imbalance, or falls. And these physical impairments can lead to adverse effects on a person’s ability to safely and efficiently complete their usual activities of daily living and participate in the community.

What types of conditions do people experience that vestibular physiotherapy can be helpful for?

  • Age related vestibular changes ‘presbyvestibulopathy’ (Whitney, 2014).
  • Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) (Bhattacharyya et al., 2017).
  • Migraine related vertigo (Alghadir & Answer, 2018).
  • Meniere’s disease (van Esch et al., 2017).
  • Vestibular neuritis and labyrinthitis (Hall et al., 2016).
  • Vestibular schwannoma (Hruba et al., 2019; Mann & Gouveris, 2009).
  • Dizziness of central origin (neurological dizziness) (Brant & Dieterich, 2017; Tramontano et al., 2021).
  • Persistent concussive symptoms (Ellis et al., 2015).
  • Chronic forms of dizziness (Popkirov et al., 2018; Dai et al., 2014; Trinidade, & Goebel, 2018).
  • Functional neurological disorders (Nielsen et al., 2014).

In which settings do vestibular physiotherapists work?

  • Emergency departments.
  • Acute hospitals.
  • Inpatient rehabilitation programs.
  • Day rehabilitation programs.
  • Dedicated outpatient clinics within hospital.
  • Community health programs.
  • Private practice.

How can vestibular physiotherapy help people achieve their goals?

If you are working with a person that is experiencing vertigo, dizziness, imbalance, or falls, consider referral to a vestibular physiotherapist. Vestibular physiotherapists will complete a comprehensive assessment of the balance systems and develop a holistic, person centred, goal-oriented management plan (Whitney et al., 2017). Vestibular physiotherapists value interdisciplinary communication and collaboration with health professionals from a range of disciplines, in order to best support people to achieve their goals in a realistic, and timely manner (Spiegel et al., 2017).

About the author:

Heather Tolhoek is a vestibular physiotherapist located on the Sunshine Coast, Australia. Currently working within the Ramsay Health Care team’s vestibular clinic and day rehabilitation programs.


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