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A Closer Look at Vestibular Rehabilitation Therapy

The delicate balance system within our inner ears, known as the vestibular system, is crucial in maintaining equilibrium and spatial orientation. When this system malfunctions due to injury, illness, or age-related changes, it can lead to debilitating symptoms like vertigo, dizziness, visual disruption, and imbalance.

Secondary problems, such as diminished concentration, vomiting, nausea, and fatigue, can also stem from vestibular disorders. These symptoms can negatively impact individuals’ quality of life, affecting economic, social, and emotional aspects.

The sedentary lifestyle that often ensues due to the fear of exacerbating dizziness and imbalance can lead to joint stiffness and reduced muscle strength, flexibility, and stamina.

Research shows that a specialized form of physical therapy, vestibular rehabilitation therapy (VRT), successfully addresses such issues and helps individuals regain their balance and quality of life. This rehabilitative treatment has shown promising outcomes for both primary and secondary issues.

Understanding VRT

VRT is a noninvasive and evidence-based approach to treating vestibular disorders. It focuses on improving the brain’s ability to process and interpret sensory information from the vestibular system and visual and proprioceptive inputs. The ultimate goal is to reduce symptoms such as dizziness, vertigo, and imbalance and enhance a person’s ability to perform everyday activities.

The VRT Process


A thorough evaluation is conducted by a trained vestibular therapist at League City Specialty Hospital. This assessment involves understanding the patient’s medical history, conducting specific tests to identify the type and severity of vestibular dysfunction, and assessing how the individual’s symptoms affect their daily life.

Customized Treatment Plan

Based on the assessment, a tailored treatment plan is developed. This plan takes into account the individual’s specific symptoms, challenges, and goals.

Exercises and Activities

VRT involves exercises and activities to gradually desensitize the brain to problematic sensations, retrain the vestibular system, and improve balance and coordination. Keep reading to learn a few types of exercises utilized by our professional vestibular therapists.

A man in a pink shirt balancing on one leg while standing on a rock

Gaze Stability Exercises

These exercises help improve the ability to focus on a stationary object while the head moves. They are particularly effective for individuals experiencing dizziness when moving their head.

Balance Training

Balance exercises challenge the vestibular system and train the body to maintain stability during various activities. They can range from simple standing exercises to more complex tasks.

Habituation Exercises

These exercises intentionally expose the individual to movements or positions that trigger their symptoms. Over time, repeated exposure can lead to a reduced response and decreased symptoms.

Substitution Exercises

When one sensory system is compromised, the brain learns to rely more on other systems. Substitution exercises help train the brain to use visual and proprioceptive cues more effectively to compensate for the weakened vestibular input.

VRT exercises strengthen balance and coordination, reducing the risk of falls. By mitigating debilitating symptoms, VRT improves daily functionality and overall well-being. With reduced symptoms, individuals regain confidence in their ability to move without discomfort, allowing them to lead fulfilling and active lives.

If you or a loved one is experiencing dizziness, vertigo, or balance issues, VRT could be the key to reclaiming a steady and stable future. To make sure you get the appropriate care, visit Houston Physicians’ Hospital’s Vestibular Rehabilitation Therapy webpage and scroll down to the bottom to find an otolaryngologist (ear, nose, and throat) physician who’s right for you. Click on their bio and make an appointment directly with their office.