When do you start vestibular rehabilitation therapy? That’s a big question that I get very frequently because starting Vestibular Rehabilitation Therapy can be a big decision. It’s a big commitment to yourself, it can be a big financial commitment, and parts of it can be difficult and uncomfortable.
Vestibular Therapy’s intention is to push you to the edge of dizziness and discomfort without making you too dizzy, to make you stronger. It’s a very fine line, and, if you’re not ready for it yet, it can make your symptoms worse. I say this not to scare you away from starting Vestibular Rehabilaition, but to prepare you for whatever may arise.
When Am I Ready for Vestibular Rehab?
Vestibular rehabilitation therapy can almost always be useful, but that does to mean it’s useful from day 1 of your diagnosed vestibular disorder. Vestibular rehabilitation is most effective when you are medically stable, and you are willing to feel a little bit dizzy during your exercises. Even if you are willing to put 100% effort into VRT, it doesn’t always mean you’re ready. You may not be ready to start Vestibular Rehab if a singular movement of your head makes you too dizzy to go about the rest of your day. In these cases, seeking help from a physician for medical intervention is a better idea for the time being.
All of that being said, I always think it’s a good idea to get an evaluation. That way, you can know if you are ready for VRT, you have the contact of a great physical therapist for when you are ready, and if you are ready, you can go ahead and begin!
What Should I Expect in Vestibular Rehabilitation Therapy?
Vestibular Rehabilitation Therapy is supposed to make you dizzy, but it is NOT supposed to ruin your whole day. A mild increase in dizziness is specifically intended to target your brain’s vestibular error system. It’s very important that you push into this error system in order for your brain to relearn what ‘normal’ feels like. Your vestibular system is receiving an incorrect
What to Look for in a Good Vestibular Therapist?
Finding an excellent vestibular physical therapist can be quite difficult. Vestibular Rehabilitation Therapy can be a long journey, and having someone on your team for the whole ride is important. Finding someone who you feel comfortable speaking to about your symptoms, who you feel like listens to you, and works to understand your symptoms.
Here are a few red flags:
- If your therapist/provider gives you a list of pre-made exercises that are not relevant or scaled to you
- If your therapist/provide gives you Brant-Deroff or Cawthorne Cooksey exercises without explanation
- If your therapist/provider does not listen to your complaints and/or does not make your appointment about you
- If your therapist/provider does not seem up to date about the research
- If your therapist/provider is not a vestibular specialist
- There are a few programs that provide excellent vestibular education, and it’s not education we get from our basic physical therapy education. Ask your provider what continuing education they’ve done to help prepare them to be a vestibular specialist
When Will I Notice a Difference in My Dizziness Symptoms?
Vestibular Therapy is incredibly effective. Typically, within weeks, you will be able to notice a difference! Most research shows that you can probably see a difference within 4-6 weeks, if not more quickly. This does not mean you will feel 100% that quickly, but it does mean you will be more functional, less dizzy, more balanced, and be able to run more errands without as much difficulty. Vestibular Rehabilitation should be all about function, if you aren’t seeing a difference in your ability to live your life comfortably, ask your physical therapist to change your program.
What About Telehealth?
I have found that my patients who do VRT via telehealth have been just as successful, if not more successful, than those who have done Vestibular Rehabilitation in person. This is because being comfortable in your own home, in a familiar place, and not getting dizzy on the commute to the clinic all make it easier to do your exercises. Although there is some benefit to being able to see a patient in person, I have not seen a difference in outcomes from the patients I used to see when I worked in a clinic, to the patients I see now via telehealth. It is incredibly powerful, and oftentimes more effective than seeing patients in person!
Are You Interested in Working With Me?
I offer Vestibular Rehabilitation Services in New York, New Jersey, California, Virginia, and Maryland via telehealth. It’s an incredibly powerful service, and all my patients have been very successful. To learn more, email me ([email protected]) or go to our Contact Us page and shoot me a message! I will report within 24 hours!
Are you located elsewhere?
Fid a Vestibular Therapist in the US: https://vestibular.org/healthcare-directory/
Find a Vestibular Therapist In the UK: https://www.acpivr.com/find-a-physio/