Vestibular Rehab Certificate for Clinicians: Foundation and Clinical Application


Vestibular Rehab for Clinicians: Foundation and Clinical Application

 Part 1: Foundation (Online portion)

Part one of this hybrid course will be presented online, providing the clinician with the foundational knowledge to improve understanding of vestibular function and the effects of vestibular dysfunction in patients presenting with dizziness, imbalance, and falls. Specific emphasis will be placed on understanding of peripheral and central causes of dizziness, including benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV), vestibular hypofunction, stroke, neurodegenerative diseases, and multisensory dizziness. Principles of assessment and differential diagnosis will improve the clinician’s efficiency in examination and translation of exam findings into the development of an effective, evidence-based treatment plan.

Part 2: Clinical Application (Live portion)

The goal of continuing education is to enhance the clinician’s knowledge and understanding of a topic in a way that that they will be able to incorporate the evidence-based concepts and techniques that were presented to their clinical practice. This course is designed to do just that. It will help to solidify the learning that was done in Part 1: Foundations, through hands-on practice, instructor feedback, large and small group discussion, individual work, and applying concepts to case studies.

Some features of this course include instructor feedback on assessment and treatment techniques, large and small group activities to demonstrate application of the principles of differential diagnosis, and clinical application to real patient cases. Understanding of the vestibular rehab concepts will be brought to a higher level of understanding as they are applied to complex cases, such as multiple canal BPPV and mixed central and peripheral conditions. Clinicians will have an opportunity to develop a personalized assessment template specific to their clinical setting and patient population with guidance from instructors and group discussion. They will also create a ready-to-follow clinical plan to incorporate the evidence-based treatment strategies to patient care based on their exam findings. Clinicians will walk away from this course series with knowledge, confidence in their technical skills, experience in differential diagnosis and a plan in place to evaluate and treat patients with dizziness upon returning to the clinic on Monday.

INTENDED AUDIENCE: Physical therapists, occupational therapists




  1. Describe the function of the utricle, saccule and semicircular canals of the bony labyrinth.
  2. Name co-morbidities that prolong recovery from vestibular hypofunction.
  3. Recognize signs and symptoms of vestibular migraine as a common cause of dizziness.
  4. Compare the prognosis for peripheral and central dizziness.
  5. Describe signs and symptoms of orthostatic hypotension.
  6. Describe physiologic nystagmus.
  7. Describe Alexander’s Law and how it can be applied to BPPV assessment.
  8. Recognize direction-fixed and direction-changing nystagmus and use this to help differentiate central from peripheral dizziness.
  9. Identify key components of the subjective history that will help to formulate a hypothesis and assist in developing a more targeted objective exam.
  10. Name the components of the oculomotor exam and describe their importance in the overall examination.
  11. Discuss the appropriate positional tests for the anterior, posterior and horizontal semicircular canals.
  12. Discuss the direction of nystagmus in diagnosis of central versus peripheral dizziness.
  13. Explain how the HINTS exam is used in differentiating central versus peripheral dizziness.
  14. Recognize the implications of the head impulse test in diagnosis of vestibular disorders.
  15. List the components of a thorough neurological screen for vestibular patients.
  16. Identify the hallmark symptoms of benign paroxysmal positional vertigo, vestibular hypofunction and Meniere’s disease.
  17. Name co-morbidities that prolong recovery from vestibular hypofunction.
  18. Recognize signs and symptoms of vestibular migraine as a common cause of dizziness.
  19. Identify the objective exam findings consistent with a diagnosis vestibular hypofunction.
  20. Discuss the four areas of treatment as discussed in the vestibular hypofunction clinical practice guidelines.
  21. Identify the parameters for gaze stabilization as recommended in the clinical practice guidelines for vestibular hypofunction.

Online Coursework: Self-paced

  • Module 1: Anatomy & Physiology 60 minutes
  • Module 2: Pathophysiology 116.5 minutes
  • Module 3: Recognizing and Identifying Nystagmus 30 minutes
  • Module 4: Vestibular Assessment 76.5 minutes
  • Module 5: Differential Diagnosis 57.5 minutes
  • Module 6: BPPV Treatment 80 minutes
  • Module 7: Vestibular Rehab Treatment 54 minutes
  • Module 8: Case Studies 35 minutes


Day One: Assessment and Differential Diagnosis (8 hours)

8:00-8:15 Introduction and review of vestibular anatomy and physiology (15 min)8:15-8:30 Review of vertigo diagnoses

8:30-9:00 Nystagmus and goggles (videos) (30 min)

9:00-9:15 Red flags, contraindications, and precautions, c-spine clearing (15 min)

9:15-10:15 Posterior canal BPPV assessment, treatment and skills check (1 hour)

10:15-10:30 Morning break (15 min)

10:30-11:30 Horizontal canal BPPV: assessment and treatment, and skills check (1 hour)

11:30-12:00 Anterior canal (1 hour)

12:00-1:00 Lunch on own (1 hour)

1:00-2:00 Differential Diagnosis (1 hour)

2:00-2:30 Vestibular Hypofunction: exam findings (30 min)

2:30-3:30 Case studies on differential diagnosis: what tests should we choose, what are the red flags, what should we consider in making our diagnosis and assessment plan (1 hour)

3:30-3:45 Break (15 min)

3:45-4:30 Functional outcome measures (45 min)

4:30-5:00 Group discussion and Individual work on creating individual evaluation plan (30 min)

5:00-5:30 Subjective history, exam plan, hands-on practice, tweak eval (1 hour)


Day Two: Treatment and Advanced Practice Topics (6 hours)

8:00-8:30 Review: BPPV diagnosis, treatment, differential diagnosis (30 min)

8:30-9:00 Vestibular Hypofunction Clinical Practice Guideline (30 min)

9:00-10:30 Vestibular Rehab treatment: hypofunction, central, cervicogenic dizziness (1 hour)

10:30-10:45 Break

10:45-11:15 Plan of Care creation (30 min)

11:15-12:00 Case studies

12:00-1:00 Lunch

1:00-3:00 Advanced Practice Topics


Colleen Sleik, PT, DPT, NCS, is a Doctor of Physical Therapy, specializing in the treatment of patients with vestibular disorders. Dr. Sleik is currently working at Bellin Health in Iron Mountain, MI where 75-90% of her caseload consists of patients with vertigo, dizziness, or balance problems. She has worked in a variety of settings over the years, including hospital-based outpatient, inpatient, home health, skilled nursing facilities and private practice.

Dr. Sleik graduated from The College of St. Catherine with a Master of Physical Therapy. She earned a transitional Doctor of Physical Therapy degree through The University of St. Augustine, Florida, and completed the Competency-Based Vestibular Rehabilitation course through Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. Dr. Sleik is a board-certification Neurologic Clinical Specialist. She is a member of the Vestibular Disorders Association (VEDA) and the American Physical Therapy Association, including the Academy of Neurologic Physical Therapists and the Vestibular Special Interest Group.

Dr. Sleik’s journey into the specialized care of vestibular patients began after evaluating a patient that she was unable to help. She needed to know more. She attended courses in vestibular rehab, accessed research to guide her treatment, and developed her skills in treating dizzy patients through years of practice. As a clinician, Dr. Sleik utilizes evidence-based treatment strategies to provide her patients with the best care available, while also providing them with strategies for long-term management of their condition.

Dr. Sleik lives and works in a small, rural community in Michigan where it is not uncommon for patients to drive several hours to access her specialty vestibular rehabilitation services. This need inspired her to begin teaching vestibular rehabilitation continuing education courses, and she has been teaching national-level seminars in vestibular rehabilitation since 2015. Her goal is to increase clinicians’ knowledge and understanding of vestibular rehabilitation, ultimately improving access to quality care for patients with dizziness. Dr. Sleik is pleased to have this opportunity to share her passion for treating this special population and guiding your journey in providing specialty care in vestibular rehabilitation.

Speaker Disclosures:

Financial: Colleen Sleik is the president of Focus on Function Physical Therapy, PC. She has an employment relationship with Bellin Health and PESI, Inc.

Non-financial: Colleen Sleik is a member of the American Physical Therapy Association, including the Academy of Neurologic Physical Therapy, and the Vestibular Disorders Association.

Jack Cervantes, PT, DPT, is a Doctor of Physical Therapy, currently working in the University of Wisconsin (UW) Hospital and Clinics Health System. He completed the UW Hospital & Clinics and UnityPoint Health – Meriter Orthopaedic Physical Therapy Clinical Residency Program. Dr. Cervantes graduated from the Carroll University Doctor of Physical Therapy Program in 2022. Throughout his clinical experiences he completed rotations in the Outpatient Orthopedic, Inpatient General, Intensive Care Unit (ICU), Emergency Department (ED), and Outpatient Vestibular Setting. Dr. Cervantes has also completed a variety of continuing education courses including M1 Graston Certification, Running Rehabilitation, Cervical Manipulation Safety, and American Sign Language (ASL) for the Physical Therapist. He is also a member of the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), including APTA Wisconsin and the Orthopaedic Special Interest Group.

Dr. Cervantes’ interest in vestibular rehabilitation began following an intensive 8-week rotation treating patients with diagnoses varying from benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) and vestibular hypofunction to post-concussion syndrome and Meniere’s disease. He has attended and assisted in the presentation of the continuing education course “Differential Diagnosis in Vestibular Rehabilitation” with Dr. Colleen Sleik PT, DPT, NCS at the 2022 Spring Conference held by APTA Wisconsin. This experience and continuing education opportunity opened the door to a whole new side of physical therapy. As a clinician, Dr. Cervantes utilizes evidence-based treatment approaches to provide his patients with the best care available, while also providing them with strategies for long-term management.

Speaker Disclosures:

Financial: Jack Cervantes has an employment relationship with UW Hospital & Clinics and UnityPoint Health – Meriter.  He receives an honorarium from Focus on Function Physical Therapy, PC.

Non-financial: Jack Cervantes is a member of the American Physical Therapy Association.


Aug 10 - 11, 2024


New York
New York
United States


Instructor: Colleen Sleik PT, DPT, NCS / Focus on Function Physical Therapy, PC