Why Vestibular Rehabilitation Plays an Important Role in Your Post Concussion Exercise Program
40-60% of patients that suffer head trauma experience dizziness and a lack of balance. In some cases, these symptoms continue to last for 2 years after the initial injury. This dizziness and lack of balance are due to vestibular issues generated by a concussion.
A concussion is a serious brain injury. As such, seeking out proper care with a physician and physical therapist specializing in vestibular rehabilitation treatment is essential to ensuring you make a full recovery. This type of neurological physical therapy helps relieve symptoms and restore function and mobility to your body.
If your vestibular system is impacted, normal functioning and activities may prove difficult. Consequently, you may experience a rapid decline in your quality of life.
However, vestibular therapy offers a solution to vestibular issues that may arise due to a concussion injury or other head trauma. There are many pros and cons of physical therapy, but in the case of neuro physical therapy, the good far outweighs the bad.
But First, What is the Vestibular System and Its Relation to a Concussion?
When you suffer a blow or other trauma to the head, it frequently impacts the inner ear. The workings of the inner ear are part of your vestibular system. This system helps maintain balance and stability, and also helps you gauge where you are in space and in relation to gravity. Combined with your vision and proprioception (touch), the vestibular system allows you to maintain your balance and remain upright. It makes performing everyday tasks and home exercise possible. Good balance and increased mobility are traits that people often take for granted – especially if they’ve never been sick, injured, or had these suffer. Vestibular therapy for disabilities is also common, as the techniques used promote increased stability, mobility, and overall well-being.
Essentially, the vestibular system uses sensory input from fluid and receptors to help you stand, walk, and sit. When it’s affected by injury, you may feel dizzy, nauseous, and have difficulty concentrating. As a result, you may have problems performing your daily activities. Vestibular physical therapy exercises for concussion rehabilitation can help you get back on your feet.
What Does Vestibular Rehabilitation Treatment for Concussions Involve?
Vestibular therapy is an essential and necessary piece in a concussion exercise protocol. It involves a variety of exercises to help reduce symptoms and improve balance. The following outlines the general protocol involving vestibular therapy for concussion cases:
Step 1: Assessment Before Balance Therapy
Vestibular rehabilitation starts with a careful examination and assessment of your symptoms. Your physical therapist may analyze and observe your gait, balance, strength, and more. Home exercise recommendations and types of physical therapy may change over time – so be prepared for that.
To do so, they may have you perform a variety of tests. These tests will serve as your baseline measurements throughout your post-concussion exercise program. You’ll measure any improvements throughout your vestibular treatment program against them.
Step 2: Vestibular Rehabilitation Treatment Plan
Your physical therapist will then create a vestibular treatment plan specific to you and your situation. The goal is to improve your function and overall quality of life. The treatment plan may be altered over time, and new techniques for relief (cupping, weight training, the use of PT tape, and balance exercises) may be implemented. Be prepared to work hard and complete these home exercise activities to your best ability.
Step 3: Implementation of Vestibular Physical Therapy Exercises for a Concussion
A post-concussion exercise program involving vestibular therapy can include an array of balance exercises and head movements. These exercises and movements are retraining your vestibular system. These are commonly combined with specific manual techniques to help manage your symptoms.
Depending on the severity of your concussion, the length of vestibular rehabilitation can vary. For more mild cases, recovery may take less time. But for more severe cases, it could potentially mean years of vestibular and balance therapy. These years make it possible to see and monitor progress, which is helpful when determining how to move forward with treatment. If a treatment method doesn’t work at first, don’t give up. This is common. It simply means that you and your physical therapist have not chosen the right home exercise for your specific condition and needs.
Frequently, vestibular therapy for concussions will begin with basic balance exercises. Push your boundaries and find out just how much you can tolerate. How much you can tolerate may even vary from day-to-day. However, overall, you should see a steady and gradual improvement in your symptoms.
Some patients even report that when they do different types of physical therapy, they replace the need for painkillers and other medications. This is ideal. The smaller the number of medications taken, the better. Many patients prefer natural pain relief to pharmaceuticals. Consider this when thinking about physical therapy.
Vestibular Therapy Can Help You Make a Full Recovery Post-Concussion
Most concussions involve vestibular issues and symptoms. Post-concussion, it’s very likely you’ll undergo vestibular treatment along with other medical interventions and care. One important aspect of mobility home care and physical therapy in general is accessibility. For many, physical therapy appointments don’t require a referral. This means that you have direct access to physical therapy. What else does this mean? There’s no wait between deciding that you need the therapy and beginning your treatment.
If you’re struggling to find a physical therapist that specializes in vestibular rehabilitation in your area, the BetterPT clinic location tool or downloading the mobile app can help you. Simply search for the type of therapist you need and connect with a vestibular physical therapist near you today. Vestibular therapy is also available virtually – through telehealth. One platform used to deliver it is the BetterTelehealth platform – which requires nothing but time, an Internet connection, and a device that can go online.
Let a vestibular therapy post-concussion exercise program help you get back to your life and the activities you know and love.