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Infrared Goggles – Technology to Enhance Vestibular Assessment

By April 26, 2021Balance, Physical Therapy

As covered in our previous blog, vestibular dysfunction is a complex area that requires experienced assessment by a trained Physical Therapist. At Hands On Physical Therapy, we now have a set of infrared vestibular goggles to help our Physical Therapists provide the best possible vestibular assessments to our patients with dizziness. 

Why are goggles needed?

Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) is a common peripheral vestibular disorder that causes people to experience a sense of spinning dizziness. This condition occurs when small calcium crystals (called “otoconia”) travel into the wrong part of the inner ear. 

When this occurs, a Physical Therapist can observe a condition called “nystagmus” by looking at the patient’s eyes. Nystagmus looks like an uncontrolled, jerking movement of the eye and happens as a part of a reflex loop that connects the vestibular system to eye movements. 

Sometimes nystagmus can be observed without the use of goggles in normal room light, but this is not always the case. Some individuals have a natural ability to suppress nystagmus (or “fixate”) in normal room light. The use of infrared goggles helps a Physical Therapist block out room light and prevents a patient from suppressing nystagmus during positional testing for vertigo, allowing for accurate diagnosis of their condition.  

How do the goggles work?

The Vestibular First Insight goggles fit over the eyes similar to a pair of goggles you would wear snorkeling. They include a cover to block out room light, and a set of infrared cameras that provide video footage of the movement of the eyes to reveal nystagmus during head movements. The goggles connect to a computer to show the therapist what is happening with the eye movements in real time. 

Image credit: Vestibular First

Image credit: Vestibular First

As the Physical Therapist conducts testing with the goggles, they can detect nystagmus which determines which part of the inner ear is involved in causing dizziness, and design an appropriate treatment plan specifically for the patient. 

The Vestibular First system also allows us to record the video stream from the goggles and provide a copy to the patient to keep for their records, or to share with their physician. This can be helpful with more complex vestibular conditions where the diagnosis is not as straightforward as BPPV. 

At Hands On Physical Therapy, we strive to provide the highest level of care for our patients to help them recover quickly. Using technology like the Vestibular First Insight goggles helps us provide high quality care, improve patient understanding of their condition, and share knowledge with our patients’ physicians to improve their care. 

Part of what we love about these goggles is their ease of use for both patient and therapist, comfort level for the patient, and ability to be easily sanitized between patients. 

Dizziness does not have to be a part of life, so if you are struggling with dizziness, please call us today to schedule a thorough vestibular evaluation using the Vestibular First Insight goggles. 


If you are interested in learning more about your balance, Hands On Physical Therapy offers a balance screening clinic: click here to receive more information! 

To learn more about the vestibular system and understand BPPV, check out our other blogs!


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