So what is brain based vestibular rehabilitation therapy, (VRT)? Think about it like this. Suppose you just had shoulder surgery. Would you be all better, or would you now need to do physical therapy to rehabilitate your shoulder back to normal function? Without rehab such as this, I can tell you, you will never regain normal use of your shoulder. Well the same is rue of the vestibular labyrinth. Whenever you have any affliction that causes any type of dizziness or vertigo, without vestibular rehabilitation therapy exercises, you will not be likely to just return to normal function.
Is There a Difference Between Physical Therapy, Vestibular Rehabilitation Therapy and Brain Based Vestibular Rehabilitation Therapy?
In a word, yes. Physical therapy involves exercise therapy primarily for the trunk and limbs. This can oftentimes be useful for individuals with increased fall risk and imbalance. However, it should not be confused with brain based vestibular rehabilitation therapy which concerns itself with rehabilitation of the vestibular labyrinth, brain and oculomotor system. Traditional vestibular rehabilitation is typically a generic canned therapy that is not typically specific to the patient’s needs. As such, some patients will improve, some will stay the same, and some will get worse.
How Does Brain Based Vestibular Rehabilitation Therapy Work?
Just like physical therapy makes muscles grow stronger and more coordinated, brain based vestibular rehabilitation therapy is a method of habituating neurons of the central nervous system, (primarily the brain), and the vestibular system so that neurologic function may be enhanced thus improving the function of the balance systems. Because neurons respond and grow very differently than does muscle tissue however, vestibular rehabilitation therapy must be done very specific to your needs. This is to say that a canned approach will not work. Two individuals with the same exact problem may respond very differently to vestibular rehabilitation therapy depending on the extent of involvement of their disorder, their overall health going into treatment, and their level of stamina in their ability to perform the exercises in the first place. If this is not taken into consideration in the therapy plan, the treatment is destined to fail and will in all likelihood even worsen the patients status. I see this all of the time in my own practice and it is a common occurrence and reason for referral to my office.