Vestibular therapy

The vestibular system, is a sensory system that detects acceleration and changes in body movement.

A woman on a run stands stretching.

Symptoms of vestibular system dysfunction

Do you experience episodes of:

  • Dizziness
  • Imbalance
  • Motion Sensitivity
  • Blurred Vision

If your answer is “yes” to any of these symptoms, vestibular therapy may help!

Vestibular system helps with balance, focus, and movement

The vestibular system, is a sensory system that detects acceleration and changes in body movement. When this system ceases functioning properly, a person may experience difficulty maintaining balance, maintaining an upright position and successfully moving through space. The vestibular system is in the inner ear and sends signals to the eyes to control their movements and when this system functions correctly, a person can maintain visual focus while moving. This system also send signals to muscles responsible for controlling posture, thus keeping a person upright. The brain receives constant information provided by the vestibular system to understand the body’s position and acceleration through space at all times.

Patients with vestibular problems often complain of

  • Decreased walking speed
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Low confidence in balance
  • Imbalance which worsens with walking
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Swaying, rocking, floating, spinning inside of the head
  • Changes in vision, blurred vision, double vision
  • Light-headedness
  • Vertigo
  • Dizziness
  • Changes in hearing/tinnitus
  • Sense of rocking or swaying
  • Migraine/headaches

Physios that provide vestibular treatments

What will happen when I see a therapist

First, a thorough medical history will be taken including details regarding dizziness and balance. Depending on your symptoms, your therapist will ask you to complete a questionnaire to determine how your symptoms are affecting your quality of life and functional ability. This questionnaire will give a baseline at the start of therapy to reassess at the end of treatment to compare and determine progress.

The physical examination will focus on four main components:

  • balance and walking tests
  • head and eye movement tests
  • neurological scan
  • musculoskeletal testing


Depending on the assessment findings, treatment may include static and or dynamic balance exercises and walking stability exercises, gaze stabilization exercises, and/or gravity assisted positioning techniques. When appropriate, patients will receive specific home exercises, tasks, activity modifications, and fall prevention education to work toward correcting and/or managing symptoms.

Key References

Acerra, Nicole, PhD. PT (2014). Advanced Vestibular Rehabilitation.