Balance retraining and vestibular rehabilitation are used to treat balance disorders and movement related dizziness. Balance is a complex function that involves the coordination of many body systems. Balance requires the ability to produce movements and interpret information about your body’s position in space. Your visual system provides information about your environment. Proprioceptive nerve endings throughout your body provide information about the location of your body in space. Your vestibular system, located in your inner ear, is needed for balance and position sense. Coordinated muscle movements continually move your body and keep it in an upright position. If any of the systems are disrupted, balance problems and dizziness can occur.
Balance and dizziness can result from neurological disorders, such as a stroke or traumatic brain injury. These conditions change the way nerve signals travel or are processed in the brain. Trauma or disease can affect the vestibular system in the inner ear. Certain medications can be toxic to the middle ear, and cause damage. Trauma and neurological disorders can interfere with visual processing. You may experience balance problems or dizziness because of one or more contributing factors. Untreated balance problems can cause significant disability.
Your doctor, usually a neurologist or ear, nose, and throat specialist can diagnose the cause of your balance problem or dizziness. Your doctor can refer you to specialists that treat these disorders. A neuro-optometrist can assess the way your brain processes the information received by your eyes. Occupational or physical therapists can evaluate your balance system, posture, and motor movement planning. They can work with the neuro-optometrist to help your vision and body movement systems work better together.
Treatments for balance dysfunction vary and depend on the factors that cause it. The goals of balance retraining and vestibular rehabilitation are to decrease dizziness, improve balance function, improve visual motor control, increase general activity levels, and help your body compensate for inner ear disorders. Your therapists will design an exercise and movement program to promote optimal function and safe mobility.