Picture of vestibular system

Vestibular Conditions

What is the role of your vestibular system?

The vestibular system sits within your inner ear complex and functions to provide a sense of head motion and its position in relation to gravity. This is achieved through its relationship to the brainstem and the cerebellum. Other key anatomical features of the vestibular system include: the cranial nerves, the bony and membranous labyrinth, and the vestibular reflexes.

Vestibular complex

Vestibular complex


What happens when your vestibular system is dysfunctional?

Sensations of vertigo, nausea, nystagmus (uncontrolled beating of the eye) and poor balance, are all symptoms of vestibular conditions. Your vestibular system relies on functional communication between the central vestibular system (cerebellum and brainstem), the peripheral vestibular system (the bony and membranous labyrinth) and the vestibular reflexes. Sometimes after a virus, part of your vestibular system can become inflamed, affecting the balance between the left and right sides of the vestibular system, resulting in the symptoms mentioned above.

What is BPPV?

BPPV stands for benign paroxysmal positional vertigo, and it is an episode of brief vertigo symptoms which are caused by positional changes of the head. Small crystals in the inner ear can get dislodged and float within part of the inner ear labyrinth, this can affect the communication to the brain and results in vertigo symptoms.

How can physiotherapy help?

Physiotherapists can perform a thorough vestibular assessment to obtain the correct diagnosis, and implement specific exercises that can help with vestibular rehabilitation for patients suffering from vertigo type symptoms. Positional testing for BPPV and the subsequent maneuvers can help patients suffering from BPPV.

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Author: Jacob Holmes

Vestibular Conditions