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Physiother Res Int. 2001;6(4):251-63.

Relationship between change in balance and self-reported handicap after vestibular rehabilitation therapy.

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University of Melbourne, Australia.



Dizziness and balance problems are two commonly reported symptoms of vestibular system disease, with subsequent alterations in lifestyle and reports of physical, functional and emotional handicap. Vestibular rehabilitation therapy (VRT) was developed to improve the functional status of patients with vestibular dysfunction. The aim of the present study was to investigate the relationship between change in balance performance and change in self-rated handicap after a four-week home exercise programme in 16 subjects with chronic vestibular disease.


Before and after the treatment intervention, balance was tested by use of a Smart Balance Master (SBM) system (Neurocom International, Clackamas, OR, USA) and self-rated handicap was measured by use of the Dizziness Handicap Inventory (DHI).


Significant improvement was observed in both the SBM (p < 0.001) and DHI (p = 0.003) scores over the testing period. A moderately strong negative correlation existed between change in SBM and DHI scores (Spearman's r = -0.6). Further analysis using the DHI subscales indicated, however, that the emotional component showed no significant change over time, and a poor correlation with change in balance scores (Spearman's r = -0.39).


These results indicate that a home-based exercise programme can significantly improve balance abilities in people with chronic vestibular dysfunction, but that outcomes may be enhanced by addressing the emotional issues associated with their disability.

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