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December 28th, 2021

Feeling Dizzy? Suffer from Vertigo?


Vestibular Physiotherapy can help.

Vestibular Dysfunction can arise from a number of causes. Such as hormonal changes, injury, BPPV, or sometimes may arise from no known cause. Working with a trained professional providing vestibular physiotherapy can bring relief of symptoms and accelerate recovery.

Vestibular Dysfunction can show up as changes to your balance, or walking, or feeling like you are floating. Symptoms include dizziness, imbalance, vertigo, nausea, and vomiting and can lead to an increase in falls.

There are other possible causes of sudden vertigo or dizziness like vestibular neuritis. Caused by inflammation of the vestibular nerve. Often occurring from a cold or flu that you might have had prior to your symptoms. Your doctor may also prescribe some medications for this.

How does the Vestibular System Work?

There is a delicate balance between the structures of your inner ear and its fluid balance. These act together to help our brains detect movement of our heads. Together they are responsible for balance, posture and stabilizing your vision and head movements. The structures of the vestibular system include: 3 semicircular canals and the nerves connecting them to your brain, neck and eyes. When the fluid balance is disrupted, it can change the information going from the vestibular system to the brain, eyes and neck. This can create a sensory mismatch, causing spinning, dizziness, nausea and vomiting.

Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV)

BPPV occurs when crystals in the inner ear dislodge into the semicircular canals, also causing vertigo. BPPV is most common in those who have had a previous history of head injury, whiplash or concussion.

Vestibular Rehabilitation Therapy

Vestibular Rehabilitation Therapy (VRT) is an exercise-based program to reduce the symptoms of vertigo. This form of physiotherapy uses exercises to help treat conditions associated with the vestibular system, or the inner ear. 

The good news is that a disturbance in the system, created by BPPV,  hormonal fluctuations or a virus, does improve over several days or weeks. The brain detects the changes and eventually calibrates things, returning the system to normal. In some cases, symptoms can be persistent and require treatment from a trained physiotherapist.

The even better news? Booking an appointment with a physiotherapist who treats vestibular disorders can assess and treat your vestibular function during this event and when symptoms are not resolving on their own.

An initial appointment includes a detailed health intake, assessment of gait, balance, head and eye coordination, and cervical range of motion. The assessment identifies the canal affected by any dislodged crystals and any motion sensitivity that you might have.

Vestibular Dysfunction treatment includes positional maneuvers to clear crystals out of your semicircular canals. As well as, specific movements to help calibrate your system. Homecare suggestions are provided for fall prevention and tips to reduce dizziness, like exercise, energy pacing, and hydration.

Gaze Stabilization Exercises – these exercises work with visual, vestibular and proprioceptive systems to improve control of the head.

Habituation Exercises – these exercises involve quick head movements to help desensitize the vestibular system.

Balance Exercises – these exercises involve getting you to perform functional activities, such as walking or changing position, in a challenging environment (ie. on uneven ground, in the dark).

About Claire McGlynn, Physiotherapist

Claire brings an impressive clinical background with 19 years experience in manual rehab.  She sees a variety of conditions in her physiotherapy practice including acute and chronic back pain, muscle and joint injuries, repetitive strain injuries, tendinitis, bursitis, postural dysfunction, concussion, and vestibular disorders. Claire combines joint mobilizations/ manipulations, soft tissue massage, medical acupuncture, GUNN IMS (dry needling), therapeutic taping, nerve mobilizations, therapeutic exercise, functional strength training and lifestyle coaching into her comprehensive treatments.

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