Questions You May Have Before Balance Therapy

If you have been struggling with vertigo or vestibular issues, your doctor will likely send you to a physical therapist for a type of treatment called balance therapy. This therapy involves a series of exercises that help realign your inner ear and your mind so you can achieve better balance and reduce your risk of falls. Balance therapy is effective, but it is unique — so you might have some questions before your first appointment.

Will you have to exercise?

If you've been to physical therapy before, it may have involved a lot of stretching and distinct exercise. But balance therapy is a bit different. You will have to move and adjust your body in various ways, but you should not feel like it's a workout, or like you are fatigued afterward. 

What moves will the therapist have you perform?

Most of the exercises are actually related to your eyes. Your physical therapist will focus on getting you used to controlling your eye movement and stabilizing your gaze as you look at moving objects. To do this, they may present you with a slowly moving object, have you follow it with your eyes, and then work with you to keep following it with your eyes as it moves faster and faster.

Your physical therapist may also perform some movement to try to adjust the way the tissues of your inner ear are lining up. For these, you may be asked to lay down on your side while the physical therapist tilts your head in a certain way. This may be awkward, but it's not painful.

How many sessions will you need?

Balance training will not work overnight. Once your eye movements and inner ear are stabilized, your physical therapist will likely start putting you in more realistic settings, such as on a walking path, to help you learn to maintain balance in these more real-world scenarios. It takes most patients a few sessions to get to this point, and then a few more to really be confident in real-world scenarios. It's hard to say exactly how long you'll be in balance therapy, but most patients go for a few months — some for a year.

Hopefully you now have a better idea of what to expect in your balance therapy sessions. These sessions can be really helpful if you're been struggling with balance and are afraid of stumbling while you walk.