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Vestibular Rehabilitation

1. What is vestibular rehabilitation?

Vestibular rehabilitation is a form of physical therapy that is designed to promote habituation and compensation for deficits related to a wide variety of vestibular disorders. Vestibular rehabilitation is effective in improving symptoms resulting from unilateral (one sided) and bilateral (two sided) vestibular and balance disorders. The goals of a vestibular rehabilitation program are the following:

  • Improve balance;
  • Improve safety by minimizing falls;
  • Decrease sensations of dizziness;
  • Improve stability during movements such as walking;
  • Reduce over-dependence on visual and somatosensory inputs;
  • Improve neuromuscular coordination;
  • Decrease anxiety and somatization due to vestibular disorientation;

Vestibular rehabilitation may be beneficial for individuals who have virtually any balance condition such as benign paroxysmal positional vertigo, vestibular neuritis, acoustic neuroma; Meniere’s disease, and perilymphatic fistula and must be prescribed by a physician. In many instances, CEI physicians recommend Vestibular Rehabilitation in conjunction with medical or surgical therapy to return patients experiencing dizziness and vertigo to their maximum functioning level.

A supervised exercise program focused on balance improvement is utilized and must be tailored to each individual patient – think of your vestibular rehabilitation therapist like a personal trainer for your balance system. Collaboration between your medical provider and vestibular rehabilitation therapist is needed for best outcome.

2. Are there other treatments available for vestibular disorders?

A specialized interdisciplinary team of professionals is necessary to treat all of the issues associated with vestibular disorders, including a complete medical work-up. This group of individuals should include an Otologist or Otolaryngologist, and an audiologist, and a vestibular rehabilitation expert.

The California Ear Institute is a leading global center for otological, otolaryngological and audiological treatment. Dr. Joseph Roberson, a board certified neurotologist, has successfully treated thousands of patients with hearing and balance related disorders.

3. What are the consequences of avoiding treatment?

All patients must seek medical treatment for any change in hearing or balance regardless of whether or not vestibular problems are suspected to be the source of the hearing loss. Evaluation for beneficial drug treatment or surgery cannot be established without a comprehensive medical examination and associated testing. Avoiding medical evaluation for vestibular problems or any other hearing or balance impairment related condition is not recommended, and can lead to permanent hearing loss.

Additional notes

Patients searching the internet for information about vestibular problems or any other medical issue should know when reading about individual case histories, that generally it is the patients with the most severe symptoms who either post their own experiences or are included in medical review journals. As a result, it is easy to become overly alarmed and assume the worst. Patients should keep this in mind as they explore the available resources, and look for sources that are certified by HON or other reputable health reviewing organizations. As with all medical conditions, prompt treatment by experienced medical personnel give the best chance for a positive outcome.


If you suspect that you have a vestibular disorder or you have noticed a change in your hearing, consult a CEI otologist. The outlook for treatment is excellent, once the diagnosis has been made and appropriate treatment is initiated.

Click here to make an appointment with the California Ear Institute to consult with one of our board certified otologists regarding your ear-related condition.

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