Vestibular Physiotherapy

Vestibular physiotherapy is a specific field within the physiotherapy profession for the assessment and treatment of dizziness and balance conditions related to the inner ear. A vestibular physiotherapist is trained in very specific assessment and treatment techniques to diagnose dizziness, vertigo and balance problems, as well as provide appropriate treatments to resolve symptoms.

What is the vestibular system?

The vestibular system is made up of the vestibular organ, its connections to the brain, and the parts of the brain that process its signals. The vestibular organ is a part of our inner ear and functions as a sensory system that provides the brain with information about movement, head position and spatial orientation. It is also responsible for keeping our vision stable while the head is moving, as well as maintaining balance.

The vestibular organ contains three semicircular canals, which provide the brain with information regarding angular acceleration (such as tilting or turning the head), as well as two otolithic organs, which provide the brain with information regarding linear acceleration (such as moving forwards/backwards, up/down).

A properly functioning vestibular system is vital to a person’s ability to maintain balance and maintain gaze stability (keeping your eyes fixed on an object).

What can go wrong with the vestibular system?

There are many conditions that can lead to dizziness, vertigo and balance impairment.
Some of the more common conditions include (click on the link to read more about each specific condition):


How do I know that my dizziness is being caused by the vestibular system?

Symptoms associated with a vestibular problem are most commonly associated with the symptom of vertigo, which is a false sensation of spinning or rotation when you are not actually moving. Other symptoms that may indicate a vestibular problem include dizziness and unsteadiness or poor balance. A vestibular physiotherapist is trained in the careful assessment and diagnosis of patients with dizziness, vertigo and balance problems.

What should I expect at my vestibular physiotherapy appointment?

At your initial appointment, you will be asked a series of questions relating to your condition, as well as any relevant medical history and contributing factors. The physical assessment will often include a series of balance assessments as well as a series of special tests while you wear Frenzel goggles, which use an infra-red camera to track your eye movements. The reason a vestibular physiotherapist assesses your eye movement is that the vestibular system has a direct connection to the muscles that control the position of the eye, which normally functions to keep your vision stable. Any abnormal signals from the vestibular system can therefore be tracked by looking at the movements of the eye.
Once a diagnosis is made, the vestibular physiotherapist will explain the findings and relevant treatment pathway. The treatment will then be commenced within this initial appointment.

Follow-up appointments will always start with a reassessment to check the progress of your recovery, followed by further appropriate treatment. The number of follow-up appointments depends on each individual case, with some conditions such as BPPV commonly requiring only one or two follow-ups, whereas more long-term conditions such as labyrinthitis/vestibular neuritis may require several.

Arriving for the appointment:

At your first physiotherapy appointment, you will be asked to arrive 10 minutes ahead of the appointment time to complete a short form about your injury. If you have any paperwork related to your injury, please bring this with you. This may include scans, reports, previous treatment, doctor’s letters etc.

Initial consultation:

Assessment: During the consultation, we will ask you a series of questions regarding the condition, your medical history, any contributing factors, as well as your goals. We will then look at the relevant body part and associated areas to assess the injury thoroughly and form a diagnosis. This may involve a series of hands-on physical tests of the injured body part, as well as any relevant functional testing that is specific to your injury (for example reaching with your arm for a shoulder injury, bending forward for a back injury or walking/running on a treadmill for a leg injury).
Treatment: After the assessment, we will explain to you our findings and outline the treatments that are known to be effective for your condition. We will then commence the treatment, which may involve “hands-on” physiotherapy techniques that reduce pain and/or restore movement, as well as personalised exercises that help the body repair the injury and prevent re-occurrence. If we prescribe exercises for you, these will be given to you on a printed handout. We will also give you a link to your exercise program online, including photos and videos.

Follow-up consultations:

Most injuries will require a number of follow-up appointments to continue the “hands-on” treatment and progress the exercise program. This will ensure that you fully recover from the injury in a timely manner, return to your chosen activity and achieve your goals. The number of follow-up appointments will differ for each case and we will be happy to discuss this with you. Many injuries re-occur when not treated fully. We have a strong philosophy of prevention, so we will provide you with strategies to reduce the risk of suffering the same or a related injury in the future.

Our vestibular physiotherapist Justin has undergone extensive training in the rehabilitation of vestibular disorders that cause dizziness and balance symptoms.

If you would like to ask Justin a question about vestibular rehabilitation or anything else, visit our contact us page to get in touch.

If you are ready to make an appointment, visit our make a booking page and let us help you with your recovery.

Do I need a referral to make an appointment?

No. Physiotherapists have been first-contact, primary healthcare professionals in Australia since 1976. That means that you can book a physiotherapist appointment without seeing your doctor first. Many of our patients are referred from GPs and specialists but many choose to see us themselves.

How much does an appointment cost?

For our latest pricing, please see our fees page.

Do you accept private health insurance?

Physiotherapy is covered by private health funds as part of “extras” cover and we have HICAPS facilities to charge your health fund on the day of the appointment. The amount that your private health fund pays will depend on your policy.

Is physiotherapy covered by Medicare?

Physiotherapy is generally not covered by Medicare but you can get part funding from Medicare through a Chronic Disease Management Plan if your GP refers you with one of these.

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For more, visit our Frequently Asked Questions page.

If you would like to ask a question about our services or anything else, visit our Contact Us page to get in touch.

If you are ready to make an appointment, visit our make a booking page and let us help you with your fitness or recovery.