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What Are Different Vestibular Therapy Exercises?

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  • Written By: Patti Kate
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 25 November 2016
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Vestibular therapy exercises are typically designed for overcoming symptoms of tinnitus and other vestibular disorders. Although vestibular problems are more common in adults, paroxysmal vertigo affects children as well. Therapy to help control dizziness and correct balance or coordination associated with this condition may include shoulder and neck exercises. Simple walking activities may also be included in vestibular therapy exercises.

Someone with certain abnormalities within the vestibular system may have difficulties with balance and equilibrium. Vestibular therapy exercises help the brain learn to adapt to the energy transmitted by the vestibular system. The exercises will help the brain interpret every transmission correctly, allowing the person to perform everyday activities without becoming off balance or dizzy. As a result, simple eye and head movements that are necessary for normal functioning will be better tolerated.

In many cases, experts recommend the patient perform 15-20 sets of each exercise. Most physical therapists or physicians recommend the patient perform vestibular therapy exercises two or three times daily for several weeks until symptoms improve. Many vestibular therapy exercises are referred to as head exercises. Some include bending movements while sitting down, while other exercises involve turning the head from side to side. As symptoms diminish, the patient may close his eyes while exercising.

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Another type of vestibular exercise is known as a shoulder shrug. As the shoulders are being shrugged, it's important to rotate the head from side to side. Variations of this vestibular therapy exercise may be learned from a physical therapist.

Alternating between a sitting and standing position is another one of the recommended vestibular therapy exercises. The patient should begin with slow movements, then gradually work up to a faster pace. This activity may be repeated 15 times, alternating between open and closed eyes. Another type of standing activity may involve placing a pillow or other soft object under the feet and balancing without holding on to a chair or other object. For extra stimulation, this activity may be performed with eyes closed or by standing on one foot.

In addition to various standing and sitting activities, retraining the eyes by performing a series of gazing exercises may also be beneficial. These vestibular therapy exercises are performed by focusing on an object or target from within a specified distance. As with any of the vestibular therapy exercises, patients should consult with a physician before beginning a program.

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