The vestibular system can be divided into two main systems: the central system (the brain and brainstem) and the peripheral system (the inner ear and the pathways to the brainstem). This publication discusses the peripheral vestibular system in depth.
One of the distinctions that may need to be made is if the dizziness the patient is reporting is coming from the peripheral vestibular system (the labyrinth of the inner ear, and the pathways/nerves connecting to the brainstem) or the central vestibular system (the brain and brainstem).
Describes the function of the vestibular system and symptoms and causes of damage to it; defines specific types of vestibular disorders; and reviews common diagnostic tests and treatments. (Download Vestibular Disorders: An Overview 1-page flier.)
An explanation of how the balance system recovers from injury through the compensation process; acute (immediate) and chronic (long-term) compensation; causes of decompensation and failure to compensate; use of medication and vestibular rehabilitation therapy.
Describes the difference between dizziness, vertigo, and disequilibrium. Suggests questions a person might ask to help him or her decide whether to seek medical help for a balance problem or dizzy spell.