What Is the Vestibular System?
The vestibular system is a sensory system in the body that is responsible for providing our brain with input about motion, head position, and spatial orientation. It also assists with motor function that helps with balance, stabilizes the head and body during movement, and maintains posture. The vestibular system is crucial for normal movement and equilibrium.
The sensations involved in the vestibular system begin in the ear and use a series of tubes and canals to connect with the brain.
What Is Gaze Stabilization?
Gaze stabilization is a kind of exercise used in vestibular rehabilitation therapy that seeks to improve eye movements as they adjust to head movements. When you move your head, your vision should still be clear. Depending on the type of vestibular condition you have and how severe it is, you may need gaze stabilization to prevent blurriness during movement. A common example is fixating the eyes on an object while repeatedly moving the head back and forth or up and down for several minutes.
What Is Habituation?
Exercises meant to correct dizziness as it relates to self-motion and visual stimulation is known as habituation. These exercises are very beneficial in cases of dizziness with movement, motion sickness, and those who report dizziness in a visually stimulating environment. The goal of habituation is to reduce symptoms through repeated exposure to specific movements or visual stimuli, provoking mild symptoms until the central nervous system is better able to habituate the stimuli. Over time, the symptoms should decrease.
What Is Balance Training?
Balance training is a series of exercises designed to improve steadiness to allow patients to participate in daily activities with less risk of falling. A therapist will ensure each exercise is both challenging and safe enough to avoid falls during therapy. Eventually, this should improve the ability to walk on uneven ground or in the dark. A comprehensive program may aim to improve the ability to sit, stand, walk, turn, bend over, and reach while maintaining balance.
Does VRT Help Vertigo?
Vertigo that is caused by Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV) is commonly treated through VRT. A therapist will first assess your inner ears through positional testing, which puts your head in various positions to try and reproduce the sensation of vertigo, to determine if you are a fit. If so, the therapist will then use repositioning maneuvers to treat the specific type of BPPV that has been identified.
Some individuals will continue to experience more general dizziness and imbalance over time, even after the use of repositioning maneuvers. In these cases, other exercises like balance training may be recommended.
Does VRT Hurt?
The exercises used in VRT can often be tedious but are usually not painful. However, you are likely to experience symptoms during many exercises as your body adjusts and learns to compensate. You should expect to experience some mild to moderate dizziness or disorientation during a session as a part of your recovery. But with time and consistency, you will see these symptoms decrease both during and after sessions.