Vestibular Therapy

It's estimated 1/3 of people with PCS have vestibular dysfunction.  A vestibular physical therapist is a specific type of physical therapist who specializes in treating balance and dizziness.  The vestibular system helps maintain your body's sense of equilibrium (balance). It is also important to note that PCS vestibular symptoms can present a little differently than the standard patients.  These patients may not present with the classic dizziness or balance symptoms, they may say something more along the lines of "I feel off/wierd" but are unable to describe exactly HOW they are feeling. While vestibular therapy is necessary in 1/3 of patients, 0% of those patients will need vestibular therapy ALONE.  Cervical treatment and neurodevelopmental optometry are just two common adjuncts.  Remember, concussion management is best done by a multi-disciplinary TEAM. TREATMENT includes specifically prescribed exercises to retrain the vestibular system.  These will incorporate head/eye coordination, balance exercises, ocular-motor (eye) exercises, gait (walking) stabilization and repositioning techniques. Take home point:  Vestibular symptoms feel yucky.  To recover you do need to be RETRAIN this system.  Check out your local Vestibular Physical Therapist and be sure they specialize in concussions. Realize there are also some chiropractors with a vestibular specialization.  Both are qualified (proper level of education and licensing). Choose a healthcare provider with advanced training in concussions who you trust.

SYMTPOMS include: •balance problems •dizziness •fog •fatigue •visual blurring •feeling slowed down •falling sensation •difficulty concentrating •trouble reading/watching TV •light sensitivity •ringing in the ears (tinnitus) •world bounces with you while walking •motion sensitivity •headache •falls •nausea

This treatment was recommended by Molly Parker

Patient Reviews

I go 3-4 times a week, has helped a lot. although the process is slow going, improvement is definitely visible! Melissa knows her stuff! She’s “keeping up with the times” meaning she believes that exercise is helpful in brain healing. Definitely glad to have her as my PT.

Olivia/Melissa Pietraszewski, PT, DPT- Opimal Physical Therapy, Rosslyn VA

Vestibular rehab is often very difficult and stirs up awful feelings of nausea and dizziness, but it is remarkably effective. Be sure to perform these exercises at a minimum rate of 120 bpm, or the visual system will take prominence over the vestibular. Keep in mind that, due to their proximity in the frontal lobe, vestibular dysfunctions will often come with mood problems like anxiety and a lack of motivation, which is due to organic damage, not an uncooperative patient. VR can be difficult for patients due to the increase of their symptoms like dizziness and fatigue. VR is designed to push the limits of these symptoms very slightly in order to increase tolerance. However, if symptoms are increased more than this, progress can actually go backwards. This is why it is so critical to 1- be honest about your symptom threshold and 2- have a qualified and intuitive therapist

Kellie Pokrifka