Tips & Techniques

Deciding Where to Go For Vestibular Rehabilitation

Dana Tress 
January 8, 2024
Deciding Where to Go For Vestibular Rehabilitation

Maybe you received a vestibular diagnosis, or maybe you are somewhere along the process of learning the cause of your dizziness symptoms.  Either way, you likely have a lot of emotions surrounding how you are feeling right now.  Having a new, sudden onset of dizziness or dizziness that is chronic and persistent will significantly impact how you function every day.  Not only do you physically not feel like your normal, and it can interfere with your ability to participate in social events, work, and regular daily activities.  Perhaps the most difficult part of a vestibular diagnosis is finding the right combination of healthcare professionals to form a team to help you.

A Physical Therapist (PT) who is trained and experienced in the management and treatment of vestibular disorders can be an essential component of your care.  A PT might be the first healthcare professional to explain to you that the vestibular system is located in your inner ear and is a component of your balance.  They might also be the first person who performs a large variety of tests on you to help determine the root cause of your symptoms.  A vestibular PT might also be the first person to begin to treat you for your dizziness.  Because of this close relationship with a physical therapist during your journey with dizziness symptoms, it is important to choose a PT who is the right fit for you.

While there can be constraints and limitations to accessing care, such as insurance limitations and proximity to healthcare services, you should have some choice in who you see for your vestibular rehabilitation.  Chances are, you will be spending more time with your PT than with your physician.  Therefore, you need to find a PT that has a personality that you appreciate.  Your physical therapist should be knowledgeable about disorders that can cause dizziness and vestibular disorders.  Not only should they understand the physiology behind the condition, but they should also be able to provide you with comprehensive treatments that progressively challenge you and help you meet your goals.  A vestibular PT should be able to regularly adapt their interventions with you based on your feedback. So, a therapist that listens to you and acknowledges your symptoms is essential.  Finally, the right PT for you should also know when you should see other healthcare providers and provide you with guidance in that next step.  A vestibular PT might note something when performing your initial assessment or at some point during your course of care that requires additional medical services.  The best course of action a PT can take for you is to ensure that you are getting treated effectively, whether that care comes from PT or not.

Remember that you do have a choice when creating a healthcare team to help you with your vestibular journey.  If you are not satisfied with your care, have a conversation with your PT explaining why you are unsatisfied with care.  Perhaps there is just a miscommunication happening that can be corrected with a discussion.  If it is a bigger problem, or if things do not improve, you have every right to switch PTs.  Not every PT is a perfect fit for every patient.  Adding stress of working with a PT who is not right for you will not help you improve.  So, be sure to be your own best advocate and surround yourself with a healthcare team, PT’s included, that work directly with you to help you get back to your best self!

Meet the Author
Dana Tress, PT, MS, 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.
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