What To Expect Along Your Vestibular Rehab Journey

March 19, 2019

Lauren Fournier, PT, DPT, Vestibular Rehab Therapist

  1. Even though you are likely learning about your “Vestibular System” for the first time, you have undoubtedly discovered it is very much a part of your everyday life. Your balance is a huge part of how you interact with the world. It’s how you stay upright after all.
  2. Your recovery will be a marathon, not a sprint. Whether the injury or disease process came on suddenly or developed slowly, the vestibular system and everything involved with it is complex and takes weeks and, in some cases, several months to recover. This will vary depending on the cause/source of the problem.
  3. Often, the symptoms will get slightly worse before they get better. The exercises that are designed specifically to treat your ailments are designed to lightly provoke your symptoms of dizziness and/or headaches if you are experiencing them (but SHOULD NOT be done to the point of making you feel terrible for the rest of the day). The idea is to slightly push into the boundary of your symptoms with each repetition, so you eventually move the boundary. The analogy I often use is: If I am trying to stretch out my hamstring, I need to push slightly past the “comfortable” area to feel a stretch so I can make improvements. The same goes for your dizziness. If you are doing the exercises and you don’t feel any increase in the symptoms, then you might as well not do them.
  4. Don’t be a hero and push far past your limits. The thought of, “If I push myself further, then I’ll get better faster” is no more productive than doing too little. Just like with your hamstring, if you push too far into a stretch you could injure or tear your muscles. The same thing goes for the vestibular exercises: If you make yourself “extra dizzy,” then you are putting your vestibular system through too much stress and you will be dizzy throughout the day, making your usual functions impossible.
  5. It’s important to stick with the exercises. They may seem strange and usually make you feel “yucky,” but the repetitions are important. The more frequently you do them, the less of an effect they will have on you over time. The same concept applies, if you only do the exercises the 1-2 times a week in our office then the likelihood of them working are slim.
  6. There will be good and bad days. Try not to get discouraged if you have a bit of a setback after making progress. This is normal and things will continue to improve–you just need to continue with the exercises and stay focused (no pun intended).

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