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Vestibular Rehabilitation

Vestibular physical therapy at Presence St. Mary's Hospital consists of an individualized program addressing your needs and functional deficits.  If you have been experiencing falls, lack of coordination, unsteadiness with walking, needing furniture or walls to keep your balance, or the sensation of the room spinning, you may benefit from an evaluation with a physical therapist specializing in vestibular problems. 

Some reasons for a vestibular problem to occur: head trauma (fall, car accident, hit on the head), viral infection, or an unidentifiable cause.  Common diagnoses associated with vestibular problems that can be treated by a physical therapist specializing in vestibular disorders:

  • Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV)
  • Unilateral Vestibular Hypofunction or Deficit
  • Bilateral Vestibular Deficit
  • Brainstem or Cerebellar CVA
  • Peripheral Neuropathy
  • Labyrinthitis or vestibular neuritis

Three main sensory systems help us balance (vestibular, somatosensory, and visual).  The vestibular system, or balance system, is located in the inner ear, and is the dominant sensory system that provides information about movement and balance relative to gravity.  The vestibular system is commonly referred to as your equilibrium.  The somatosensory system refers to the pressure we feel with contact on the ground or supporting surface (feet if standing and bottom if sitting).  Our vision provides additional feedback and is the error corrector between our vestibular system and the somatosensory system.  Therefore, we use our ears, eyes, and feet to help us balance.

The most common vestibular problem treated in physical therapy is the correction of BPPV which refers to a condition in the inner ear where debris, or otoconia, also known as ear rocks, is displaced from the inner ear and accumulates in the semicircular canal.  Head movements cause this debris to shift and cause subjective complaints of dizziness, nausea, imbalance, or lightheadedness.  Common movements that may provoke symptoms include: lying down in bed, sitting up, rolling over, looking up, or stooping forward.  BPPV is also more common with advancing age.  Treatment includes patient education, a home exercise program, and is directed at removing the debris from the semi-circular canal.

Treatment for most vestibular problems is typically designed as a therapist-directed, patient-motivated, home-based exercise protocol.  Following the initial evaluation, one would typically be seen by the physical therapist once a week over the course of a few weeks in order to treat and progress your exercise program. 

For more information or to schedule an appointment, please call (815) 937-8220.

Presence St. Mary's Hospital Rehabilitation Services  |  815.937.8220
500 West Court St, Kankakee, IL  |  21 Heritage Drive, Bourbonnais, IL


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