The purpose of balance rehabilitation is to assist individuals who are experiencing difficulties with balance or dizziness in improving function and preventing falls by thoroughly evaluating each individual's needs and providing a treatment plan to address their specific concerns. The evaluation involves assessment of pertinent vestibular and neuromuscular system functions, including strength, range of motion, coordination and balance, head and eye movements, mobility, and risk for falls.
The physical therapy treatment plan addresses areas of concern found during the evaluation and includes the development of an individualized home exercise program to decrease dizziness symptoms and address musculoskeletal or neuromuscular problems that affect balance.
Treatment may also include:
Gait training with an appropriate assistive device
Patient education regarding safe home mobility
Computerized platform posturography
Other therapeutic exercises and activities
A variety of central and peripheral neurologic and orthopedic diagnoses can contribute to dizziness and imbalance and may be effectively treated through balance rehab. These include:
Effects of aging
Inner ear disorders (e.g., benign paroxysmal positional vertigo, ototoxicity, labyrinthitis)
Brain injury and post-concussion syndrome
Stroke and other neurologic conditions
Orthopedic injuries and conditions
Each patient will be evaluated by a highly skilled physical therapist, who will assess all systems that contribute to an individual's balance.
Screening tools that may be used include: the Berg Balance Scale, the Sensory Organization Test, the Functional Reach Test, the Dizziness Handicap Inventory, and the Rhomberg Test. Other tests that may be appropriate, depending on the individual diagnosis, may include a Mini-Mental State Exam, a visual screening questionnaire, a evaluation, a home environment interview, and detailed musculoskeletal and functional mobility evaluation.
Based on the results of these screening tools, comprehensive balance rehab recommendations may be made to include physical therapy. Additionally, recommendations may be made to refer appropriate clients to occupational therapy to address impairments identified in the areas of vision, cognition, or activities of daily living.