Certification for Vestibular Rehabilitation Therapists

Vestibular rehabilitation therapists help people overcome dizziness and vertigo.
i Comstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images

As a kid, spinning around to see how dizzy you could get was a game, but women dealing with dizziness do not see the fun in it. Doctors call it a vestibular deficit, which is seen in many women going through pre-menopause or pregnancy. No matter how you spin it, frequent dizziness can wreak havoc on a woman’s physical and mental state. Thankfully, vestibular rehabilitation therapists offer help to those with vestibular deficits through rehab and therapy programs.


    Certification for vestibular rehabilitation gives therapists a leg up in the industry and shows clients and employers they have gone the extra mile to gain additional know-how. Because of its specialized nature, only a handful of providers offer certification in vestibular rehabilitation. The American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties provides a specialist certification in neurology for therapists wanting to treat vestibular deficits. Other providers include the American Board of Vestibular Rehabilitation through the American College of Functional Neurology and the American Institute of Balance.


    Each provider sets its own rules for earning certification, but all require the candidate to hold a current license in physical therapy from the state where they practice. Candidates must also fulfill a certain number of professional hours. For example, the ABPTS requires at least 2,000 professional contact hours in neurology, with at least 25 percent of those hours coming in the previous three years. If a candidate does not meet the requirements for professional hours, some providers have other eligibility options, such as enrolling in an accredited clinical program or taking classes directly related to vestibular rehab. Some programs, such as the AIB workshop, mandate that candidates hold a degree in audiology, medicine, physical or occupational therapy.


    Once over the eligibility hurdle, candidates must take and pass a certification exam. After a candidate’s application receives approval and she has paid the application fee and met all the eligibility requirements, she can schedule and sit for the exam. Most providers offer the exam online or through a third-party computer-testing center. ABVR’s exam consists of two parts, a written portion and a practical part, where test-takers show off their skills through hands-on demonstrations. To help prepare candidates for the exam, providers offer study guides, workbooks, practice tests and even study groups, where test-takers can get together with other local test-takers to go over the exam materials.


    Earning a certification does not stop at passing the exam. Certification holders must recertify every few years. The ABPTS, for example, requires recertification every 10 years, with candidates submitting documentation of at least 200 patient care hours each year during the certification period. Other requirements for recertification include passing a recertification exam, submitting a professional portfolio or participating in an accredited clinical program. Recertification through the ABVR takes place every five years and the AIB requires recertification every two years.

the nest