How can you manage your balance disorder?
If the brain cannot rely on the information it receives from the balance system, a person’s ability to maintain their balance can become overly dependent on vision or on the information received from the muscles and joints.
This can lead to developing new patterns of movement to compensate for the change and to avoid head movements that increase their symptoms of dizziness and nausea.
For example, a person might adopt restricting their neck movement as a method of reducing the onset of their symptoms and therefore might swivel their entire body rather than just the head in turning to look at something, or might always look down at the floor to avoid what appears as a confusing swirl of activity.
Unfortunately, these types of adaptation can result in headache, neck ache, muscle stiffness, general fatigue, and a decrease in the ability to retrain the brain to adjust to the vestibular problem, which can make the symptoms much worse.
What is Vestibular Rehabilitation?
The aim of Vestibular Rehabilitation is to retrain the brain to recognise and process signals from the vestibular system, in coordination with information from vision and proprioception. This often involves desensitising the balance system to movements that provoke symptoms. A qualified audiologist provides a course of exercises after a full assessment
From this assessment the audiologist will develop an individualised treatment plan that will include exercises to be performed at home which combine specific head and body movements with eye exercises. Treatment may also include increasing activities and exercise in order to strengthen muscles and increase tolerance for certain stimuli.
Some of the exercise and activities may at first cause an increase in symptoms, as the body and brain attempt to sort out the new pattern of movements. But with time and consistent work, the coordination signals from the eyes, proprioception, and vestibular system will occur.
In most cases, balance improves if the exercises are correctly and accurately performed. Muscle tension, headaches, and fatigue will diminish, and symptoms of dizziness, vertigo, and nausea will decrease or disappear. Often, Vestibular Rehabilitation is so successful that no other treatment is required.