Vestibular rehabilitation (VR) is an exercise based therapy for people with ear related balance and dizziness symptoms. It is suitable for those with diagnosis of stable Menieres, vestibular hypofunction in one or both ears, or other vestibular insults which have not been recovered from. For many individuals with a balance disorder, the damage to the balance organ is irreparable so VR exercises are therefore developed to match the difficulties experienced, and aid compensation improving the brains ability to maintain overall balance.
Vestibular compensation is a learning process whereby the brain recalibrates to interpret the signals it receives from the balance organs but also from eyesight and proprioception – information from knees, hips and joints. The goal being that with good compensation and commitment to the programme, it is possible to return to feeling better and balanced.
Vestibular or inner ear balance disorders are regularly described by individuals as experiencing imbalance, dizziness, vertigo and falls alongside impacting on the ability to do day to day tasks, nausea and blurred vision with head movements. Understandably, these symptoms then impact on anxiety and stress levels. Vestibular rehabilitation looks to address the core symptoms leading to a faster/better outcome.
VR appointments include a full and thorough discussion around current day to day symptoms and tasks which have had to be modified or avoided. This then allows the clinician to decide on any functional balance tests required, and to ascertain whether exercises are appropriate. If so then a bespoke exercise programme is tailored specifically to the individual. They will be set at a manageable, safe but challenging level. These exercises are regularly reviewed and adjusted as and when required. It is not unusual to require 5 or 6 appointments.
Balance rehabilitation appointments can only be made if a referral letter has been received from a GP, ENT or Neurology consultant, to make sure that you are medically well. The referrer is then kept in the loop through regular reports following appointments.
Access and cost
These appointments are currently being offered either as a video call through Teams with subtitling as an option, or on the telephone. The cost is £150 per appointment; some medical insurance companies do contribute to this cost.