Vestibular rehabilitation for patients with agoraphobia and vestibular dysfunction: a pilot study

J Anxiety Disord. Jan-Apr 2001;15(1-2):131-46. doi: 10.1016/s0887-6185(00)00047-5.


This study examined whether physical therapy with vestibular rehabilitation exercises would benefit patients with agoraphobia and vestibular dysfunction. Nine patients went through a 2-week no-treatment baseline phase, a 4-week behavioral treatment phase focusing on self-directed exposure, and an 8-12-week vestibular rehabilitation phase (weekly sessions). On the main outcome measure, clinical global impressions (CGI) ratings of severity, behavioral treatment was accompanied by a reduction in severity (effect size d=0.8; P<.10). On the supplementary measures, the Hamilton Anxiety Scale (Hamilton-A) and the Chambless Mobility Inventory (MI), no significant improvements were noted. After vestibular rehabilitation therapy, further improvement occurred in CGI severity (d=0.65; two-tailed P<.10), and significant improvements occurred in the supplementary measures. The physical therapist identified motion-induced dizziness and disturbances in balance in most patients. These improved with rehabilitation. Although the results can be attributed to other explanations, they are not inconsistent with the hypothesis that vestibular dysfunction maintains agoraphobic symptoms in some patients.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Agoraphobia / complications
  • Agoraphobia / rehabilitation*
  • Behavior Therapy / methods
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Dizziness / complications
  • Dizziness / rehabilitation
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Physical Therapy Modalities / methods*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Vestibular Diseases / complications
  • Vestibular Diseases / rehabilitation*