A vestibular disorder is any sort of problem that develops with the inner ear and parts of the brain that control sensory information. Vestibular disorders typically cause problems with balance, eye movements, and dizziness. Some common vestibular disorders include benign paroxysmal positional vertigo, Meniere’s disease, perilymph fistula, labyrinthitis, vestibular neuritis, and secondary endolymphatic hydrops.
Vestibular testing typically works by tracking the eyes while stimulating the vestibular system through head movements. One of the most common methods of vestibular evaluation is an electronystagmography (ENG). During an ENG, electrodes are placed around your eyes. Next, you will be asked to follow different visual targets as well as have your head placed in different positions. You may also have your ear canal stimulated in order to measure eye movements.
Other types of testing include rotation tests, in which your head is slowly rotated back and forth; video head impulse testing, in which the head is moved quickly; vestibular evoked myogenic potential, in which electrodes measure how vestibular organs respond to sound; and computerized dynamic posturography, in which your ability to maintain an upright posture is tested.
If your vestibular evaluation reveals that you have a disorder, you must then undergo vestibular treatment to correct the problem. While the underlying issue cannot be corrected, rehabilitation can relieve symptoms and help you feel better. It can also help you learn to compensate for any deficiencies.
The three main types of treatment include habituation exercises, gaze stimulation, and balance training. Habituation exercises are typically used to treat dizziness that occurs when a person is moving or makes a quick head movement. Gaze stimulation is best for patients that have an unclear or bumpy vision when turning their head or watching moving objects. Balance training is a great technique for helping people become more steady and avoiding dangerous falls.
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