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Posted on Oct 03, 2019 at 6:28 AM


Physical Therapy and the Treatment of Vertigo

Physical Therapy and the Treatment of Vertigo

Ericka Hornak, DPT lead therapist at PRO Rehab Dallas, recently completed her certification in Vestibular Rehabilitation and Concussion with the American Institute of Balance. This certification focused on current trends in treatment and evaluation of patient with vestibular and concussion diagnosis.

Ericka, PRO is so proud of you and your dedication to advancing your education and commitment to our patients.

For more information on Physical Therapy and the treatment of Vertigo read below.

Vertigo is a word that is thrown around a lot with balance issues but what does it really mean? Vertigo is the sensation of spinning, even when you are perfectly still. It may seem that you are moving or that the room is moving around you. This description should not be confused with these other terms.

Dizziness: feeling unsteady without the spinning
Unsteadiness: poor control of your body.
Pulsion: feeling that you are being pushed or falling in a particular direction.
Presyncope: feeling that you're lightheaded or going to faint.

Vertigo can be caused by many conditions including: inner ear infection or disorder, migraine, acoustic neuroma, surgery to or around your inner ear, head injury, a hole in the inner ear, or stroke.1

The most common form of vertigo is BPPV, benign paroxysmal positional vertigo. It is an inner ear issue where small crystals in your ear become dislodged and float in the canals of your vestibular system. This can cause you to experience short spinning bouts when you move your head in a certain position.

Diagnosing the cause for your vertigo starts with a detailed conversation with your therapist. Questions will include when your vertigo started, what positions may trigger the vertigo, and how long each episode lasts. He or she will use this information along with physical testing to diagnose the cause and determine your level of fall risk. Further testing or consultation may be recommended by your physical therapist.

Treatment will be created for each patient individually based on the evaluation findings and personal goals. Specific treatment will depend on the cause of the vertigo. BPPV has very specific maneuvers that assist with relieving the vertigo.

Following the elimination of the vertigo, you may still be experiencing some of the other previously defined terms, such as dizziness and unsteadiness. Your PT will be able to then address these remaining issues with exercise to improve your strength, balance, and eye/vision deficits. This balance retraining is vital to reduce the risk of falls. One in every four adults over the age of 65 fall each year.2 Balance related falls account for more than 1/2 of the accidental deaths in the elderly.3

Pro Rehabilitation Therapists work to getting you back to your life as quickly and safely as possible. Call to speak with one of our vestibular specialist today!

Written by Ericka Hornak DPT, AIB-VR/CON


  1. Melissa S. Bloom, PT, DPT; Bob Wellmon, PT, PhD, NCS; and APTA's Neurology Section. (2011). Vertigo. [online] American Physical Therapy Association. Available at: https://www.moveforwardpt.com/SymptomsConditionsDetail.aspx?cid=8faba487-14c0-482e-9280-c655e1776ebe [Accessed 2 Aug. 2019].

  2. Tiffany Shubert, PT, PhD; APTA's Neurology Section; and APTA's Section on Geriatrics. American Physical Therapy Association. (2011). Falls. [online] Available at: https://www.moveforwardpt.com/symptomsconditionsdetail.aspx?cid=85726fb6-14c4-4c16-9a4c-3736dceac9f0 [Accessed 2 Aug. 2019].

  3. The American Institute of Balance. Understanding Vertigo, Imbalance, and Motion Sickness. A Patient’s Guide. Patient Education Series Pamphlet.

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