Vestibular rehabilitation for dizziness and balance disorders after concussion

J Neurol Phys Ther. 2010 Jun;34(2):87-93. doi: 10.1097/NPT.0b013e3181dde568.


Background and purpose: Management of dizziness and balance dysfunction is a major challenge after concussion. The purpose of this study was to examine the effect of vestibular rehabilitation in reducing dizziness and to improve gait and balance function in people after concussion.

Methods: A retrospective chart review of 114 patients (67 children aged 18 years and younger [mean, 16 years; range, 8-18 years]; 47 adults older than 18 years [mean, 41 years; range, 19-73 years]) referred for vestibular rehabilitation after concussion was performed. At the time of initial evaluation and discharge, recordings were made of outcome measures of self-report (eg, dizziness severity, Activities-specific Balance Confidence Scale, and Dizziness Handicap Inventory) and gait and balance performance (eg, Dynamic Gait Index, gait speed, and the Sensory Organization Test). A mixed-factor repeated-measures analysis of variance was used to test whether there was an effect of vestibular rehabilitation therapy and age on the outcome measures.

Results: The median length of time between concussion and initial evaluation was 61 days. Of the 114 patients who were referred, 84 returned for at least 1 visit. In these patients, improvements were observed in all self-report, gait, and balance performance measures at the time of discharge (P < .05). Children improved by a greater amount in dizziness severity (P = .005) and conditions 1 (eyes open, fixed support) and 2 (eyes closed, fixed support) of the Sensory Organization Test (P < .025).

Discussion: Vestibular rehabilitation may reduce dizziness and improve gait and balance function after concussion. For most measures, the improvement did not depend on age, indicating that vestibular rehabilitation may equally benefit both children and adults.

Conclusions: Vestibular rehabilitation should be considered in the management of individuals post concussion who have dizziness and gait and balance dysfunction that do not resolve with rest.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Brain Concussion / complications
  • Brain Concussion / rehabilitation*
  • Child
  • Dizziness / etiology
  • Dizziness / rehabilitation*
  • Exercise Therapy / methods*
  • Female
  • Gait
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Postural Balance
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Vestibular Diseases / etiology
  • Vestibular Diseases / rehabilitation*
  • Vestibular Function Tests