Using Vestibular Swings for Your Patients

by Howard Gerber on September 27, 2011

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Vestibular swings are therapeutic devices designed to address a variety of vestibular disorders. VRT, or vestibular rehabilitation therapy, is the first line of treatment for most patients with this type of condition. The exercises designed by the therapist help to retrain the brain of the patient to compensate for their condition. Often VRT will make it possible for patients to lead a normal life without requiring surgery. This therapy is usually provided by a physical or occupational therapist.

 Vestibular Disorders

The vestibular system controls the processing of sensory information, such as controlling balance. If the area is affected through injury, disease, a genetic condition, or environmental conditions a vestibular disorder may occur. The most common problems cited by patients suffering from a vestibular disorder are vertigo, imbalance, and dizziness. Specific conditions include Meniere’s disease, acoustic neuroma, ototoxicity, cholesteatoma, and autoimmune inner ear disease. According to some studies, about 35% of American adults over the age of 40 will experience a vestibular dysfunction. These conditions are often overlooked and underdiagnosed.

Types of Swings

Vestibular swings can be an important component of VRT. There are a variety of swings that can be utilized for this type of treatment. Each gives a different sensory experience. They may be used together or separately depending on the condition being treated. Indoor swings include the disc swing, spinning top swing, string swing, and the around about swing. Autism patients may also benefit from the sensory input these devices provide.

Children especially seem to enjoy this type of therapy because it seems more like playing than working. Adults may be more resistant to the initial increased feelings of vertigo and dizziness the swings may cause; however, repeated treatments tend to resolve these issues.

Grants

Vestibular swings can be prohibitively expensive for a practice that only treats a small number of vestibular disorders each year. With such a small percentage of patients using the devices it can be difficult to find the funding to invest in one of these therapy options. One way to afford specialty devices is through grant funding. If your therapy establishment is connected to a hospital, inquire with the hospital’s grant writer. If you work at a private practice consider government, state, or foundation grants.

To learn more about vestibular disorders, visit the Vestibular Disorders Association. Have you had experience with a patient suffering from a vestibular disorder? Have you seen improvement with balance exercises or vestibular swings? What is your favorite type of swing?

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