In school, you were most likely taught about the five senses, but our sense of balance is another important sense many people often take for granted. The vestibular system is located in the inner ear and is responsible for keeping us upright.
For patients who have ever experienced vertigo, their sense of equilibrium is thrown off, and the dizziness can be so bad that walking can be a challenge. However, there are specific head movements that can improve vestibular and balance training.
What can cause vertigo?
Vertigo can be caused by problems in the inner ear itself or from the head and spinal cord. Often, small crystals in the inner ear can become displaced and cause vertigo. A perforated eardrum, or a buildup of fluid in the ear can cause that dizzy feeling, as well. Some medications and even alcohol may trigger vertigo. In addition to dizziness, other symptoms may include:
- Ringing in the ears
- Hearing loss
As unpleasant as this sounds, many patients can improve their vestibular and balance training to improve their vertigo symptoms with specific head movements.
The Epley Maneuver
This exercise begins with the patient sitting on the edge of a bed. The neck is turned in the direction of vertigo symptoms, and then you will quickly lie on your back. After 30 seconds, turn the head halfway to the opposite and hold for another 30 seconds. The body is then turned away from the side with vertigo symptoms so that you are looking towards the floor. Finally, the patient slowly sits back up on the bed.
This maneuver works to improve vestibular and balance training by helping to speed up the brain’s compensation.
Cawthorne head exercises
This set of exercises helps the patient actively engage control over head and eye movements. The simplest exercise is to keep the head level while moving eyes side to side, and then up and down. Then, work moving your head side to side, and then up and down.
As the body becomes accustomed to these movements, toe touches and shoulder shrugs are introduced to help coordinate hand and eye movements, with the goal of helping the body regain its sense of balance.
These exercises can be practiced by yourself to help improve symptoms of vertigo. However, the physical therapists of Continuum Wellness are experts in training and improving the vestibular system to regain your sense of balance.
If you or a loved one experiences vertigo, contact Continuum Wellness today to set up your initial appointment and stop your world from spinning.