Vestibular Physiotherapy Vancouver

Vertigo & Vestibular Physiotherapy

Are you experiencing chronic dizziness or vertigo? Although there are many things that could be the culprit, this could be a sign that there might be something off with your vestibular system, located in the inner ear. Vertigo is one of the more common balance disorders, otherwise referred to as "vestibular disorders", and is associated with your central nervous system. Vertigo can be due to an ear infection, head trauma, or simply might be caused by central nervous system compensation. Through a solid treatment plan compiled of vestibular rehabilitation therapy and specific exercises, your vestibular symptoms can be treated, and your symptoms can be quelled. That's why Van Sports Physio offer vestibular physiotherapy in Vancouver.

Vestibular System

As mentioned, your vestibular system is located inside your inner ear and connects to your brain. It is in charge of orientation, balance, motion, and head position.

What is Vertigo and Vestibular Rehabilitation?

Vertigo is not a disease, it is a cluster of symptoms sometimes associated with a head trauma, ear infection, or anxiety. When someone is experiencing vertigo, they might experience dizziness, blurry vision, balance issues, or reduced inner ear function. It can be extremely disorienting and traumatic for many patients.

Symptoms of vestibular dysfunction can include

Symptoms for treatment with a vestibular physiotherapist in Vancouver can be very different

Symptoms of vestibular dysfunction include:

  • dizziness (sometimes when bending forward)
  • feeling as if your environment is moving around you
  • disorientation
  • tripping or falling easily
  • feeling as though you are floating

What are the most common symptoms of a vestibular disorder?

The most common symptoms of a vestibular disorder include dizziness, balance problems, a general off-balance feeling.

What does a Vestibular Physiotherapist do?

A vestibular physiotherapist will assist you in retraining your inner ear through positional testing and by monitoring your visual system and eye movements. You will receive manual therapy as well as take home, customized habituation exercises to regain gaze stability. Your physiotherapist will also see if you've developed any harmful compensatory strategies on one or both sides in order to deal with your vertigo. If so, they'll provide eye exercises and a home exercise program to assist you in returning to your daily life.

If you're experiencing other symptoms, speak to your physiotherapist and we'll either adjust your program or direct you to a practitioner who can assist.

How long does Vestibular Physiotherapy take?

Many of our patients suffering find relief from their vestibular problems within 6 - 8 weeks through seeing our physiotherapists and practicing their exercises at home.

What is Vestibular Rehabilitation Therapy?

Vestibular rehabilitation therapy (VRT) is a form of physiotherapy prescribed to treat, improve balance and reduce problems related to dizziness, mostly caused by peripheral vestibular disorders (composed by the inner-ear, eyes and balance receptors throughout the body).
The physiotherapist will develop a treatment program tailored to you, composed of a set of exercises designed to reduce dizziness, vertigo, visual and balance issues.
Additionally, it also addresses secondary areas such as general strengthening, balance control, and neck dynamic stability.

Habituation exercise

A word of advice: What makes you dizzy is good for you!
This exercise is aimed to recreate movements that triggers symptoms in a safe environment. It is important to exercise to the point you experience mild to moderate amounts of dizziness. However, it should last no more than one minute.
Eg: Symptoms experienced when lying flat on your back

From a sitting position, lie down quickly. Wait for symptoms to pass. Wait another 30 seconds.
Repeat 10 times everyday.

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Gaze Stabilization exercise

Also known as YES/NO exercise, this exercise will tackle the stabilization of your eyes while moving your head.
On a piece of sticking note, write the letter “X”. Tape the letter on the wall in front of you so that you can read it. The “X” should be moved to different positions every time you perform this exercise (above, under, lateral, corner in relation to your eye level).

Start in a seated position. Focus on the letter and rotate your head a small amount from side to side (‘like saying no’) as quickly as possible.

Be sure to keep your eyes on the letter. The letter must stay in focus during the exercise. If the letter starts to blur, try to focus on it before stopping. Perform for 5 seconds MULTIPLE times a day (we suggest spreading this over your day. Consistency is better than quantity here!)

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Balance Training exercises

These exercises will challenge your balance and it is important that they are performed in a safe environment. Take extra precautions so that you DO NOT FALL.

In a corner or next to a wall, practice standing on one leg. Alternate between right and left legs. Hold for 15 seconds. Repeat 10 times a day. Start with your eyes open and as you feel more confident and stronger, try to close your eyes.

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What Should Patients Expect From Vestibular Rehabilitation?

We know that it can be quite challenging to add exercises into a busy schedule. However, vestibular rehabilitation exercises present the best evidence in decreasing symptoms overtime. The brain will eventually rewire its communication with the vestibular system, but it needs time and patience to do so. That is why it is super important to keep consistent with the exercises.

It is common to experience new bouts of dizziness and vertigo again during the rehab journey. However, as the recovery process happens, these bouts should be less intense and most of the times more manageable, not affecting your daily activities anymore.

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Factors That Can Impact Recovery

As with any other injury, our body needs time and proper resources to recover. Here are some facts that might impact your recovery process:

    • Proper sleep – make sure to get enough sleep. Feeling refreshed in the morning will set your day up for success!
    • Keep a healthy diet – avoid caffeine
    • Keep good hydration – water up!
    • Take frequent short breaks from screen-work – rest your eyes

1. Stop and look away from the screen very often (every few minutes)
2. Close eyes or look away while typing
3. Every 20-30 minutes (or whatever is tolerable) stop and take a longer break away from visual input
4. Don't wait for symptoms to stop you, stop before you have to, take a break, then continue

  • Break work into chunks/short work blocks instead of working straight for an hour
  • Adjust gadgets screen light brightness
  • Pacing & planning - strategizing your day to make the most for your energy (typically in the morning)
  • Stress and emotional distress – make sure you have enough support and coping strategies 😊
  • Keep active – light walks are great for your recovery!

How long does it take for vestibular therapy to work?

Symptom duration might vary from person to person, but usually, vestibular therapy starts to present steady decrease in symptoms over the first weeks of rehab. Some clients experience full resolution of symptoms in 2 to 3 months. Compliance with the home exercise program is essential in achieving rehabilitation and patient goals.

Van Sports & Physiotherapy

Address: 625 Howe St #521, Vancouver, BC V6C 2T6

Phone: (604) 661-8878


Call us today to schedule an appointment for vestibular therapy!

Call us today to schedule an appointment for vestibular therapy!



  • I've seen Siobhan (physiotherapist) for 6 months, she's excellent! The different injuries I've had in my knee and hip have improved notoriously with the treatment. She's very clear in explaining what is happening with your body (for me education is important so you can manage your injuries properly), giving you a variety of exercises to do at home and answering all your possible questions. I feel very well-cared for and I'm super grateful for such a positive impact on my health. I'd recommend her 100%!

    - Laura

  • Used to see Michael for a running injury - he was fantastic and worked with me diligently to get to the root cause of the problem opposed to quick fixes I've experienced at other physio clinics. Will be visiting the VanSports physiotherapist team again this week for a separate concern. Communication is always fantastic with incredibly quick response times for all inquiries. All team members are friendly, seem down to earth, genuinely interested in helping you and create a relaxed yet professional environment. Side note, the location is great being downtown Vancouver.

    - Claire

  • Mariana was so knowledgeable and caring. I felt so taken care of from start to finish as she was thoughtful in her physiotherapy treatment recommendations. Lee at reception was also super friendly and made my experience enjoyable!

    - Stephanie

  • Mariana is an excellent and professional physiotherapist. The physio clinic is very well located in Vancouver , modern and equipped. Best experience I could have asked for.

    - Gustavo

  • Having spasm for 2 weeks and seeing a couple of physiotherapists and massage therapists, Van Sports was the last and best solution! Mariana did magic! Definitely recommend her and Van sports and will come back again!

    - Mahkia

  • I’m relatively new to Van Sports and physiotherapy but I’m so glad I found Yvonne. The level of care has been fantastic and the clinic is very welcoming. I’d have no hesitation in recommending this amazing Vancouver physio clinic to anyone in need of first class help. Yvonne has given me answers to my knee problems I didn’t know I needed - she’s awesome!

    - Sharon