Vestibular Hypofunction: A Patient's Story

Louise Cassidy, Solihull, talks about her experience with being diagnosed with vestibular hypofunction and her physiotherapy treatment at Spire Parkway Hospital, Solihull:

In February 2011 I started to feel sick and off balance; then the dizziness started. I quickly became constantly dizzy, nauseous and light headed. I was wiped off my feet and couldn’t do anything. Every time I tried to move, the symptoms got worse.

My GP put me on medication to help with the sickness, but I still felt awful.

I saw an ENT (ear, nose and throat), consultant, who organised a brain scan for me. The results of this were clear, and the consultant explained that a virus of the inner ear was the cause, and could take months to resolve.

I was still feeling very ill and unable to function, when a friend of mine recommended that I should see a physiotherapist who specialised in dizziness.

I went to see Jane Wood, Chartered Physiotherapist, at Spire Parkway Hospital in Solihull. Jane took a full and detailed history of my condition. She then proceeded to do a series of tests to asses the level of my dizziness and balance.

At the end of the assessment Jane explained how the inner ear worked and why the virus had caused the problems. She then gave me a couple of exercises to do at home, and also gave me much needed advice and reassurance.

After doing the exercises for less than a week I started to feel a bit better. At last I was getting somewhere. I was seen in physiotherapy weekly for about five weeks. At each session I was reassessed and given progressive exercises. Steadily I improved, and soon felt well enough to return to work. I still occasionally get a bad day, but I know what causes it and how to deal with it myself.

Thanks to the physiotherapy department at Spire Parkway Hospital.

Louise Cassidy, Solihull

From Louise's physiotherapist, Jane Wood:

Vestibular Hypofunction is a relatively common condition called labyrinthitis or neuritis, caused by a viral attack of the vestibular system in the inner ear. The vestibular system is responsible for helping to control balance. When a viral attack such as this happens, the patient can suddenly feel extremely sick, dizzy and off balance and are often unable to get out of bed for a few days. It is essential that the patient initially seeks advice from their GP for assessment and prescription of medication.

As time passes the symptoms will naturally start to settle, and some patients will make a full recovery without the need for any further intervention. For those patients whose symptoms do not settle, referral to a vestibular physiotherapist is essential.

The reason for the continuing symptoms is that the body has not compensated for the reduction in function of the vestibular system. Physiotherapy can help by assessing the extent of the problem and tailor making a progressive exercise programme to help the body compensate. Each individual is different and will experience slightly different symptoms, therefore an initial physiotherapy assessment, lasting up to an hour is essential to facilitate optimum rehabilitation.

The physiotherapists at Spire Parkway Hospital work closely with ENT consultants, accepting referrals from and referring to them, when required.

If you require any further information or would like to book an appointment, please call the physiotherapy department at Spire Parkway Hospital on 0121 704 5546, or email

- Jane Wood Chartered Physiotherapist MCSP HPC ACPIVR 

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To make a physiotherapy appointment at Spire Parkway Hospital please call 0121 704 5546

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