Physiotherapy for Vestibular Hypofunction

Physiotherapy for Vestibular Hypofunction


A vestibular hypofunction is a condition that involves diminished ear functioning, either in one ear or both the ears. Thus, there are two types of vestibular hypofunction: unilateral vestibular hypofuntcion (when the dysfunction is in one ear), and bilateral hypofuction (when dysfunction is in both the ears). While causes of these disease vary and are inconsistent, the most common ones are aging, autoimmune disorders and allergies.

Patients suffering from vestibular hypofunction have an array of physical and functional limitations. Such limitations have a major impact on their everyday activities. Some of them are constant dizziness and postural imbalance. For instance, people experiencing unilateral vestibular hypofunction, will not be able to drive easily, as they will be unable to check the blind spot.

Physical therapy for vestibular hypofunction

Physical therapy treats vestibular hypofunction through a rehabilitation programme called vestibular rehabilitation therapy. This program mainly aims at retraining the brain to compensate for inner ear deficits through specific exercises for eyes, body and head. These exercises also aim at reducing the effect of symptoms of dizziness. Common exercises performed include:

  • Walking

Walking is an important aspect of physiotherapy for vestibular hypofunction. It focuses on improving the overall fitness of the patient. This is necessary because patients who are healthy have a brighter and faster rate of recovery. Walking also helps improve the posture of the patient as per the physiotherapist’s comprehension.

  • Head turns

Head turns are also an effective form of treatment in physiotherapy. However, for this exercise to be effective it is important to first determine the region causing dizziness.

For instance, if the dizziness occurs when you turn the head to the right: sit upright in a chair with your feet firm on the floor and then hold onto a table or other firm surfaces for balance and support. Then, quickly turn your head to the right with your eyes open. Stay in this position until the dizziness fades away. Once you stop feeling dizzy completely, turn your head back to the center position. Remain in this position until dizziness stops. Then, relax for 15 seconds and repeat four more times.

  • Leg strengthening

Balance improvement is one of the main goals of physiotherapy for vestibular hypofunction. Thus, exercises that provide more control of the body are practiced during rehabilitation sessions. This not only helps in reducing risks of failing but also helps in strengthening leg muscles. The best way to do this is by performing a standing leg raise.

For this, first locate a sturdy chair and stand facing your back towards it. Then take a deep breath in. After that, exhale and lift your right foot from the floor for 3 seconds. Hold onto the chair if you need support. Then, slowly lower your leg to the original position. For best results, do 10 sets of this exercise daily.

Not satisfied with just ordinary exercises? Visit our team of physiotherapists and get better advice on your condition.