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NeuroRehabilitation. 2011;29(2):179-83. doi: 10.3233/NRE-2011-0693.

Behavioral aspects of vestibular rehabilitation.

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Department of Psychiatry and Psychology, Mayo Clinic, 200 First Street SW, Rochester, MN, USA.


Behavioral factors are an integral part of the overall morbidity of patients with vertigo, dizziness, and balance disorders. Anxiety, depression, and more importantly, loss of balance confidence and sense of debility and handicap beleaguer patients with acute and chronic vestibular symptoms. Vestibular rehabilitation originated as a physical therapy, but a careful look at its research development and clinical applications show it to be as much, or perhaps more, a behavioral intervention. More patients referred for vestibular rehabilitation require habituation to chronic vestibular symptoms and motion sensitivity than compensation for active peripheral or central vestibular deficits. Vestibular rehabilitation may exert a positive effect on behavioral morbidity, but the benefits are somewhat uneven and do not always correlate with physical improvements. Health anxiety (i.e., excessive worry about the cause and consequences of physical symptoms) is an emerging concept in clinical psychiatry and psychology. It may offer an important key to understanding the debility and handicap experienced by many patients with vestibular symptoms and enhance the ability of vestibular rehabilitation to ameliorate their suffering.

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