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Vestibular Rehab

May 29, 2020

Vestibular rehabilitation is a specialised form of therapy which consists of exercises designed to retrain the brains ability to recognize and process signals from the vestibular system and coordinate them with information from vision and proprioception to improve our balance, spatial orientation and gaze stability.

The concept of vestibular rehabilitation exercises incorporates the concept of controlling and coordinating gaze and head movements whilst simultaneously interacting with progressively challenging dynamic environments representative of those encountered during your daily activities that produce vertigo/dizziness. It consistsof three primary principles

1.       Gaze Stabilization exercises are used to improve control of eye movements so vision can be clear during head movement. There are two types of eye and head exercises used to promote gaze stability. One type incorporates fixating on an object while repeatedly moving your head in different directions. The other type is substitution which is designed to use vision and proprioception to compensate for the damaged vestibular system and include gaze shifting and remembered target exercises use sensory substitution to promote gaze stability.

2.      Habituation exercises are used to treat symptoms of dizziness that are produced because of self-motion and/or produced because of visual stimuli. The goal of these exercises is to reduce the dizziness through repeated exposure to specific movements or visual stimuli that provoke your dizziness so that your body adapts and improves its ability to tolerate such movements.

3.      Progressive balance training exercises are used to improve steadiness and help integrate the sensory information generated so that daily activities for self-care, work, and leisure can be performed successfully. Exercises generally consist of moving the head while maintaining gaze on a stationary target with general progression from sitting to ambulation, simple to more complex and visually stimulating backgrounds and adaptation to more challenging supporting surfaces.


Based on your symptoms, medical history and general health your physiotherapist will prescribe a customised treatment plan. The exercises may at first make symptoms seem worse. This is a perfectly natural response and is intended. But with time and consistent work, symptoms should steadily decrease, which means participation in activities of daily life will be easier. Therefore, it is vital that you do your best to commit to perform the exercises for to achieve maximum benefit. For patients to achieve maximum success, they must be committed to doing them. Setting up a regular schedule so that the exercises can be incorporated into daily life is very important.

It is also important to resume your daily activities as soon as your symptoms allow you to and that you can ensure your own safety. Being inactive can decrease your tolerance to movement by decreasing the threshold it takes to aggravate the symptoms of dizziness and unsteadiness which in turn creates a vicious cycle that worsens your symptoms. Slowly and progressively, training the body to increase tolerance to movement and promote physical fitness is a goal of vestibular rehabilitation and can address this factor.

If you have any questions you can call our Dublin City Centre Clinic on 01 441 0100.