Vestibular Therapy - Balance Chicago Physical Therapy

Vestibular Therapy

Dr. Kylie Reese assisting patient with therapy .

Balance Chicago specializes in vestibular rehabilitation. We treat a variety of vestibular problems including benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV), labyrinthitis and vestibular neuritis (vestibulopathy), migraines, concussions, and Meniere’s disease. More than 90 percent of our patients report complete relief of their dizziness after completing their plan of care. Our approach focuses on the most current and innovative research to ensure patients are returning to their daily activities and lives as quickly as possible.

What Is My Vestibular System And What Does It Do?

Your vestibular system begins in your inner ear. It provides you with information about motion, head position, and spatial orientation; it also is involved with motor functions that allow you to keep your balance, stabilize your head and body during movement, and maintain posture.

Although most people are unaware of its function, the vestibular system is a key component in both postural reflexes and eye movements. When your system is damaged, your balance, control of eye movements, and spatial awareness are all negatively affected and this can cause you to feel off-balance, lightheaded, and/or have severe dizziness.

Dizziness and Vertigo

What is the difference between dizziness and vertigo?

women suffering from dizziness

Dizziness is a more broad way to describe a range of feelings that you can experience such as lightheaded, off-balance, faint, woozy, forgetful, weak, and/or unsteady. This can cause falls or near-falls. It is an electrical problem in your body that happens because of the nerve between your brain and inner ear and you get disrupted. When that happens it creates a false sense that you or your surroundings are moving even when you are not. We treat your dizziness with our specialized protocols that are customized to the root cause of your problem.

Vertigo, also known as Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV), is the most common cause of dizziness. It is a false sensation of spinning that is typically intense and scary. BPPV is a mechanical problem in which crystals within your ear become dislodged from your otoliths and migrate to your semicircular canals. The crystals accumulate and change the way the fluid in your canals moves and how your body senses movement. This issue is most commonly fixed with canalith repositioning maneuvers that your therapist will perform on you.

How long does it take to heal from Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV)?

Everyone’s healing process is different. We typically see patients in the office somewhere between 2 – 5 visits. If you do your home exercises and complete your plan of care, your progress will be faster than those that do not do their home exercises and complete their plan of care.

How long does it take to heal from a Vestibulopathy?

Everyone’s healing process is different. We typically see patients in the office somewhere between 4 – 12 weeks. If you do your home exercises and complete your plan of care, your progress will be faster than those that do not do their home exercises and complete their plan of care.

Concussion Therapy

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What is a Concussion?
Is it the same as a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)?

A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury (TBI) caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head or by a hit to the body that causes the head and brain to move rapidly back and forth and results in inflammation, bruising, or bleeding on your brain. You do not have to lose consciousness to get a concussion or post-concussion syndrome. In fact, the risk of post-concussion syndrome doesn’t appear to be associated with the severity of the initial injury.

Your brain is made of soft tissue. It is cushioned by spinal fluid and encased in the protective shell of your skull. When you have a blow or bump to your head, the impact can jolt your brain. Sometimes, it literally causes your brain to move around in your head and damage occurs when it smashes into one side of your skull and rebounds back to the other side of your skull. Traumatic brain injuries can cause bruising, damage to the blood vessels and injury to the nerves. The result is your brain doesn’t function as it should. It results in a temporary loss of normal brain function. Medically, it is defined as a clinical syndrome characterized by immediate and transient alteration in brain function, including alteration of mental status or level of consciousness, that results from mechanical force or trauma. If you’ve had a concussion, vision may be disturbed, you may lose equilibrium, or you may fall unconscious. In short, the brain is confused.

Even mild concussions should not be taken lightly. Neurosurgeons and other brain injury experts emphasize that although some concussions are less serious than others, there is no such thing as a minor concussion. In most cases, a single concussion should not cause permanent damage. A second concussion soon after the first one does not have to be very strong for its effects to be permanently disabling.

How Do I Know If I Have A Concussion?

Signs and symptoms generally show up soon after the injury. However, you may not know how serious the injury is at first and some symptoms may not show up for hours or days. Some of the things you may experience include:

  • Headache or “pressure” in your head
  • Confusion, concentration, or memory problems
  • Irritability or other behavior or personality changes
  • Just not “feeling right,” or “feeling down”
  • Feeling sluggish, hazy, foggy, or groggy
  • Balance problems or dizziness
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Double or blurry vision
  • Problems with taste or smell
  • Sensitivity to light or noise
  • Loss of smell or taste
  • Trouble falling asleep or staying asleep
  • Clumsiness
  • Slurred speech
  • Ringing in ears
  • Fatigue
  • Depression

How long does it take to heal from a concussion/TBI?

In most people, symptoms occur within the first seven to ten days and go away within three months. Sometimes, they can persist for a year or more. The goal of treatment after a concussion is to get you back to normal life as efficiently as possible.


What is a migraine?

women with migraine

Migraine is a neurological disease that can cause debilitating symptoms, including headache or dizziness, and can vary in intensity. Other symptoms that commonly occur with migraine include nausea and/or vomiting, light sensitivity, sound sensitivity, and the avoidance of activities such as work, school, or time with loved ones. Some people with migraines experience symptoms of aura, a warning symptom, which can include changes in vision or other sensory symptoms such as tingling or numbness. Triggers include hormonal changes, certain foods and drinks, stress, and exercise.

How can physical therapy help me with my migraines?

To help alleviate your migraine pain, physical therapy treatment can include massage, heat/ice packs, stretching, range-of-motion and pain-relief exercises, strengthening exercises, and conditioning.

When your headache is dizziness and pain, physical therapy treatment can include the same types of treatments for our vestibular patients which includes our vestibular rehabilitation protocols and the above treatment for your pain.

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