Vestibular rehabilitation exercises
You might be interested in reading our Dizziness and Balance Problems booklet for further information on the different causes of dizziness and the conditions that can be treated with vestibular rehabilitation exercises.
You can download this fact sheet as a pdf file.
Vestibular compensation is a process that allows the brain to regain balance control and minimise dizziness symptoms when there is damage to, or an imbalance between, the right and left vestibular organs (balance organs) in the inner ear.
Essentially, the brain copes with the disorientating signals coming from the inner ears by learning to rely more on alternative signals coming from the eyes, ankles, legs and neck to maintain balance.
Please note that you should not attempt any of these exercises without first seeing a specialist or physiotherapist for a comprehensive assessment, advice and guidance. Your GP can refer you.
Some of these exercises will not be suitable for everyone, and some are only suitable for certain conditions.
The exercises might include the following:
1. In bed or sitting:
A. Eye movements (move eyes slowly at first, then quickly)
Up and down
From side to side
Focussing on finger moving from three feet to one foot away from face
B. Head movements (move head slowly at first, then quickly; with eyes open, then closed)
Bending forwards and backwards
Turning from side to side
A. Eye and head movements, as 1
B. Shrug and circle shoulders
C Bend forward and pick up objects from the ground
D Bend side to side and pick up objects from the ground
A. Eye, head and shoulder movements, as 1 and 2
B. Change from a sitting to a standing position with eyes open, then closed (please note this is not advised for the elderly with postural hypertension)
C. Throw a ball from hand to hand above eye level
D. Throw a ball from hand to hand under the knees
E. Change from a sitting to a standing position, turning around in between
4. Moving about:
A. Walk across the room with eyes open
B. Walk up and down a slope with eyes open
C. Walk up and down steps with eyes open
D. Throw and catch a ball
E. Any game involving stooping, stretching and aiming (for example, bowls or bowling)
Gaze stabilization exercises
The aim of gaze stabilization exercises is to improve vision and the ability to focus on a stationary object while the head is moving.
Your therapist should assess you and say which exercises are suitable for you.
1. Look straight ahead and focus on a letter (for example, an E) held at eye level in front of you.
2. Move your head from side to side, staying focussed on the target letter. Build up the speed of your head movement. It is crucial that the letter stays in focus. If you get too dizzy, slow down.
3. Try to continue for up to one minute (the brain needs this time in order to adapt). Build up gradually to repeat three to five times a day.
You can also do this exercise with an up and down (nodding) movement.
Canalith repositioning procedures (CRP)
1. Sit on the edge of the bed and turn your head 45 degrees to one side.
2. Quickly lie down on your opposite side (that is, to the left if you turned your head to the right, and vice versa) so that the back of your head behind your ear touches the bed.
3. Hold this position for about 30 seconds or until the dizziness symptoms stop.
4. Return to the sitting position.
Repeat on the on the other side, alternating until you have completed six repetitions on each side.
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This information was last checked July 2013. Due for review in August 2017
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