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What Is a Vestibular Evaluation?

Dana Tress 
March 23, 2020
What Is a Vestibular Evaluation?

Any physical therapy evaluation will follow a similar format. We will get information from you about the problem for which you are seeking treatment along with other information such as your medical history and goals for your care. Then, the physical therapist (PT) will perform an examination that uses different tests and measures to help determine areas that need to be addressed during your course of care. The PT then puts all of that information together in an assessment and works with you to establish goals and a course of action.

When a person has complaints of dizziness, they will need a vestibular evaluation. A vestibular evaluation follows the same format as any physical therapy evaluation, but may use some tests and measures that are not common to a routine orthopedic physical therapy evaluation and may seem a little strange at first for the patient. First, we are not able to see the vestibular system itself because it is located deep within the inner ear (behind the ear drum). The amazing thing, however, is that the vestibular system works directly with the eyes on a series of reflexes. Therefore, by doing several tests that look at your eyes and how they respond in certain ways, we can get an understanding of how your vestibular system is functioning.

Now, dizziness is a complicated thing. So, the PT will also evaluate your eye movement through several tests, look at your balance, coordination, reflexes, sensation and look at your neck mobility and function. This is because dizziness can also come from problems in the neck, brain and eyes. The therapist will also look at your medications and medical history to see if anything there could be contributing to your dizziness symptoms.

Dizziness can be a scary thing. It can make you feel like you are spinning, like your brain is foggy, or like you are unable to walk straight. Fortunately, working along side your medical team, a vestibular physical therapist can help determine the root of your dizziness problem and develop a plan with you to get your life back!

Dana Tress
Meet the Author
Dana Tress, PT, CEAS, AIB-CON is a physical therapist specializing in the management of concussion, balance dysfunction, headaches and dizziness in Crystal Lake, Illinois at Smith Physical Therapy Balance + Concussion Center, an award winner in concierge physical therapy services for McHenry County and surrounding regions.