Skip to Content

Vestibular Therapy for Concussions

A concussion can cause balance and orientation issues. With vestibular therapy for concussions, you can get your life back on track.

Did you know that at least 25 percent of teenagers have had a concussion? Or that from 2016 to 2020, there has been an almost 5 percent increase?

A hard impact while participating in sports, a fall, or a motor vehicle accident can lead to a concussion and these types of incidents, among others, contribute to the rising number of young people experiencing a concussion, which is a type of brain injury.

A brain injury can affect physical, cognitive, and emotional functioning. Luckily, effective treatment can help you reclaim your life and thrive after the concussion.

Vestibular therapy for concussions is becoming more commonly recommended by physical therapists. These specialists can help alleviate and treat a variety of diagnoses related to the vestibular system that result from concussions. A well-functioning vestibular system ensures normal movement and equilibrium. If you feel like you’ve been suffering from lingering effects of a concussion that are affecting your balance, vision, or proprioception (your body’s ability to sense its movements, location and action) you could benefit from this treatment.

For a complete guide on vestibular rehab for concussions, keep reading.

What Is Vestibular Therapy?

Vestibular therapy is a type of rehabilitation focused on addressing problems with your vestibular system. Before diving into the fundamentals of vestibular therapy, it may be helpful to understand your vestibular system.

In the most general sense, your vestibular system is located in your inner ear. It helps control your balance as well as your proprioception. When both are affected, you can experience a variety of symptoms such as:

  • Dizziness
  • Loss of balance
  • Difficulty reaching for objects
  • Difficulty sitting or standing
  • Vertigo

When it is difficult to determine your body orientation or limb position in space, it can be disorienting and even frightening at times. You can also experience anxiety and apprehension related to activities that may have formerly been effortless like walking, getting dressed, or even sitting up.

Vestibular therapy may help. In general, it is a treatment for inner-ear diagnoses. Therapy works at improving debilitating symptoms as well as addressing the root of the problem. Often, therapy can help prevent future problems and improve quality of life.

There are different types of vestibular rehab, including:

  • Habituation
  • Balance exercises
  • Gaze stabilization

There are also many diagnostic tools therapists use to determine the best treatment interventions for an individual patient. For example, the Epley maneuver is a common exercise to treat certain inner ear conditions through a series of specific maneuvers that help realign crystals in your inner ear and eliminate vertigo and dizziness. However, not all vestibular therapy is this straightforward.

Vestibular Therapy for Concussions

Is vestibular therapy helpful after a concussion? A concussion is a traumatic brain injury (TBI), but it is typically not as severe as you might expect when you hear the phrase “traumatic” brain injury. Concussions are ranked on a scale from mild to severe.

Even mild concussions can cause adverse symptoms such as:

  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Impaired balance
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Sensitivity to light or noise
  • Memory loss
  • Impaired sleep
  • Depression

This list is not all-encompassing but illustrates how debilitating concussions can be. Vestibular therapy focuses on some of these symptoms.

Ultimately, after a concussion your brain may function at a sluggish pace. Symptoms may be temporary; sometimes people feel much better once the inflammation recedes. In other cases, patients continue to have lingering symptoms for weeks, months, or years after a concussion.

How does this relate to your vestibular system?

Damage, inflammation, or bruising can occur in any part of the brain. Your vestibular system is as much at risk as other parts, resulting in either hyperactivity (too much activity) or hypoactivity (decreased activity). If you have too much information firing on one side and not on the other, it can lead to the symptoms noted above.

Benefits of Vestibular Therapy

Concussion therapy includes vestibular rehabilitation, and physical therapists (PTs) are likely to be involved. Their wide range of knowledge and skill sets allow them to treat these issues effectively. They can also help patients understand what is happening post-concussion and why they may be having continued symptoms.

What can physical therapy for concussions help improve?

  • Posture
  • Walking
  • Dizziness
  • Balance

PTs can help you with basic mobility tasks or guide you through different exercises that can habituate you to some of the symptoms. Some exercises can treat benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BBPV) or even neck injuries that result from the initial injury; sometimes injuries to the neck are associated with the concussion and can result in headaches, vision problems, and more.

Regaining basic functioning will increase your quality of life while also improving your outlook on recovery.

Telehealth Physical Therapy

Telehealth is becoming more widespread, especially with the recent COVID-19 pandemic. The benefit of telehealth is you can have therapy anywhere and at any time.

The Kintinu Telerehab team makes telehealth for post-concussion therapy easily accessible. All you need is cell phone service or Wi-Fi and a smartphone, tablet, or computer. If you have difficulty leaving home, telehealth therapy is ideal.

This approach can also be useful for patients who struggle to make it to outpatient therapy or whose mobility is very limited. Once patients discharge from the hospital, it can be challenging to keep up with follow-up rehab. Telehealth provides you with highly skilled physical therapists who can work with you one-on-one through your recovery in the comfort of your house. In addition to physical therapists, you may also benefit from working with other therapy disciplines, like psychology, speech therapy, and occupational therapy. With each of these providers working together in an interdisciplinary approach, a well-balanced therapy program is possible and often leads to a faster recovery.

Find Your Next Vestibular Therapist

A specialized physical therapist can help with vestibular therapy for concussions. If you or a loved one has been suffering from dizziness, loss of balance, or vision problems, there might be a problem associated with the vestibular system.

Physical therapy can help, and telehealth physical therapy is an even more diverse tool that patients of all mobility levels can use.

If you want top-notch care from qualified physical therapists, call us today at (531) 210-5700 so you can be on your way to a healthier and more manageable life.