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Functional improvements after vestibular rehabilitation

...which patients benefit most?

Gaze-stability is the term used to describe the eyes maintaining a stable position in space. Throughout normal activities of daily movement, such as walking and running, the head is often rotating side to side with a high rate of velocity.  

It is through the stability of the ocular mobility and the vestibular system, together called the vestibular-ocular reflex (VOR), that the body is able to stabilise what the eyes are looking at, and the body’s response needed to maintain balance. 

The aim of this study was to investigate whether vestibular rehabilitation improved functional outcomes in patients with vestibular hypofunction.

Physiological tests (i.e., the vHIT and VEMPT) were inconsistently showing improvements in overall VOR function following VPT. However, there was a significant improvement in subjective reporting and performance testing following VPT, indicating a greater reported confidence by participants with daily activities and balance following VPT. This study supports the use of physiotherapy interventions, even in those with permanent VOR impairment, to improve balance, gaze-stability and overall function.

> From: Millar et al., Front. Neurol. 11 (2020) 79 (Epub ahead of print). All rights reserved to The Author(s). Click here for the online summary.

Expert opinion

The authors of this article utilised many of the commonly used clinical outcome measures for vestibular rehabilitation.

While this article did highlight that further objective testing may not yield a significant change following physiotherapy input, the significant improvement in the patient’s confidence with activity and functional balance supports the benefit and continued use of vestibular therapy.

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