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A guide to balance retraining

Why do I have a problem with my balance?

We each have 2 balance organs (the vestibular organs) that live in the inner part of each ear. This sends information to our brain about how our head and body is moving in our surroundings. If 1 or both of these organs are not working properly either due to an illness or reduced blood supply then this can make us feel unwell.

Often people with damage to their balance organ can feel vertigo (dizziness with spinning). This can vary from feeling slightly light-headed and disorientated to severe spinning with some people feeling sick and vomiting.

If you have these symptoms you may also feel frightened and worried which is a normal reaction although the symptoms themselves are not life threatening.

What can I do to improve how I feel?

This resource is designed to give information on some basic exercises that you can do over a period of a couple of months to help to improve your balance.

Vestibular exercises exercise the balance system by bringing on a small amount of symptoms in a safe and controlled way. This helps the brain and the balance organs to recover from the damage. The more often you complete the exercises, the faster you will recover.

Vestibular exercises

It is important to remember when doing the exercises to start gradually and increase the amount you do of each exercise each day if possible. Repeat each of these exercises for up to a minute 3 to 5 times a day. If you feel the exercises are not bringing on any symptoms after a minute then move on to the next exercise.

  1. Keep your head still and move your eyes up and down from the ceiling to the floor. Repeat with moving eyes from right to left.
  2. Slowly move your head up and down whilst looking at an object in front of you. Repeat moving head from left to right.
  3. Focus on your index finger as you bring it from arm’s length away to in front of your nose.
  4. Move from a sitting position to a standing position and back to a sitting position.
  5. Moving all objects out of the way first, walk from one side of the room to the other in a straight line.

These exercises 1 to 3 should be performed at home whilst seated. Once you can do these without any dizzy symptoms, you can move on to do exercises 1, 2 and 3 whilst standing. Input from a physiotherapy team is sometimes used to assist in improving general balance and control.

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Please note: this is a generic information sheet relating to care at Sheffield Children’s NHS FT. These details may not reflect treatment at other hospitals. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professionals’ instructions. If this resource relates to medicines, please read it alongside the medicine manufacturer’s patient information leaflet. If this information has been translated into another language from English, efforts have been made to maintain accuracy, but there may still be some translation errors. If you are unsure about any of the guidance in this resource or have specific questions about how it relates to your child, always ask your healthcare professional for further advice.

Resource number: AUD17

Resource Type: Article

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