Type, dose, and outcomes of physical therapy interventions for unilateral peripheral vestibular hypofunction: protocol for a systematic review



Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Publication Title

Systematic Reviews






Meta-analysis, Physical therapy, Systematic review, Unilateral peripheral vestibular hypofunction


Background: Unilateral peripheral vestibular hypofunction can result in symptoms of dizziness, gaze and gait instability, and impaired navigation and spatial orientation. These impairments and activity limitations may negatively impact an individual’s quality of life, ability to perform activities of daily living, drive, and work. There is strong evidence supporting vestibular physical therapy for reducing symptoms, improving gaze and postural stability, and improving function in individuals with vestibular hypofunction. However, there is great variability in clinical practice with regard to the type of interventions and only weak evidence to guide optimal exercise dosage. It is important to identify the most appropriate interventions and exercise dosage to optimize and accelerate recovery of function and to decrease distress. The objective of this systematic review is to determine which interventions and which doses are most effective in decreasing dizziness or vertigo, improving postural control, and improving quality of life in adults with unilateral peripheral vestibular hypofunction. Methods: The literature will be systematically searched using the following online databases: PubMed/MEDLINE, EMBASE, Web of Science (Science and Social Science Citation Index), Cumulative Index for Nursing and Allied Health Literature (CINAHL), and The Cochrane Library (Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials [CENTRAL], Cochrane Methodology Register). The review will include randomized controlled trials (RCTs), including cluster RCTs, to assess the beneficial effects of the interventions. Assessment of methodological quality and risk of bias will be performed by two independent, blinded reviewers using the PEDro scale and Cochrane Risk of Bias version 2, respectively. The primary outcome measure will be change in self-perceived handicap related to dizziness from baseline to the end of the study, measured using the Dizziness Handicap Inventory. Other relevant outcome measures will include self-reported change in symptoms (to include severity, frequency, and duration) such as verbal or visual analog scales for dizziness. Tertiary outcome measures will include questionnaires related to disability and/or quality of life. Discussion: This systematic review will identify, evaluate, and integrate the evidence on the effectiveness of physical therapy interventions for unilateral peripheral vestibular hypofunction in an adult population. We anticipate our findings may inform individualized treatment and future research. Clinical recommendations generated from this systematic review may inform vestibular physical therapy treatment of individuals with unilateral peripheral vestibular hypofunction. Trial registration: In accordance with the guidelines, our systematic review protocol was registered with the International Prospective Register of Systematic Reviews (PROSPERO) on 06 August 2021 (registration number CRD42021266163). In the event of protocol amendments, the date of each amendment will be accompanied by a description of the change and the rationale.

Open Access