It used to be that there were few vestibular physical therapists and they were hard to find. These specialists could be 100 miles from home making it very difficult to access their care. Due to the growth of vestibular awareness I see this changing and it is more likely that you will find a vestibular trained therapist closer to home. The pandemic has pushed telehealth to the forefront of medical care and has made the expert specialists available through the telemedicine platforms. So how do you find these specialists to ensure you are getting the best possible care? Continue reading to find out.
Physical therapists go through 6-7 years of schooling and come out with a doctorate degree. Even with all of this schooling they are trained to be generalists out of school and build their expertise with years of experience and learning opportunities. Residency programs are becoming more available for those who want to specialize right out of school and reduce the years that it takes to become expert physical therapists. This makes it confusing to find a highly skilled physical therapist in the specialty that you are seeking. If you are looking for a top-notch vestibular therapist there are 2 places to search prior to calling your local PT clinic. The other key determining factor is what equipment they offer at their clinic or mobile office (that’s right Independent practitioners offering vestibular services can come to your home to provide dizzy treatment in the comfort of your home!).
If you have a vestibular disorder you should have vestibular.org in your google search history. This is a fabulous resource offering education, conferences, and docuseries to restore balance and regain life. They also list providers who are part of their network through membership.
The American Physical Therapy Association is the other place to search who provides a map of vestibular rehabilitation providers. Specifically, this map is listed on the neuropt.org website. This is not an all-inclusive list as the therapists listed have self-submitted to be included on the map so while some have taken the steps to do so others have not. There is no board certified specialty specific to vestibular disorders and this category often falls under the neurologic clinical specialty. A board certified neurologic clinical specialist is someone who has proven extensive work in the area of neurology and has passed a board exam to prove their clinical proficiency in this area. If you find a vestibular physical therapist with their NCS that is likely someone you can trust to help with your recovery.
The equipment that they have accessible is also something that can assist with your vestibular rehabilitation. Look for a clinic that has Vestibular First infrared goggles. This allows the clinician to block out vision and see what the eyes are doing based on the input from the vestibular system. The Vestibular First goggles hook up to a computer or larger TV system to get better BPPV testing results which leads to proper assessment and treatment techniques. Virtual reality is another higher cost technology which can assist in your vestibular rehabilitation.
As with any medical professionals you have to connect with someone. Research shows that if you don’t feel a connection after 3 visits then it might be best to find another provider. There are lots of options out there and you have to work together to create the best environment for healing.