Objective: The purpose of the retrospective chart review was to compare vestibular rehabilitation outcomes in young versus older adults.
Study design: Retrospective matched design.
Methods: Twenty-three persons with vestibular disorders aged 20 to 40 years were matched by gender, vestibular diagnosis, and vestibular function test results to 23 older adults aged 60 to 80 years. The patients were treated with a custom-designed physical therapy exercise program. Patients completed the Dizziness Handicap Inventory, the Activities-Specific Balance Confidence (ABC) scale, and the Dynamic Gait Index; number of falls; and rated the severity of their dizziness. The two-sample test, the Mann-Whitney test, and McNemar's test for correlated proportions were used to determine whether there was a difference in scores between the two age groups at the beginning and end of physical therapy.
Results: During the initial evaluation, older adults reported having statistically greater space and motion discomfort and more severe symptoms on a scale of 0 to 100. Younger adults had more impaired DGI scores and a higher proportion of caloric testing abnormalities. After rehabilitation, overall improvement was seen in both the younger and older populations. There were no statistical differences between the two groups on the DHI, the DGI, reported symptoms at discharge, or number of falls. When only the complete matched-pair data were analyzed, there were no statistically significant differences between the age groups in the proportion of patients demonstrating clinical improvement.
Conclusion: Age does not significantly influence the beneficial effects of vestibular rehabilitation for persons with vestibular disorders.