BC Balance and Dizziness

Supporting, inspiring and educating those affected by balance and dizziness disorders

Vestibular Disorders

We’re still not sure of the process by which motion sickness happens. Drugs for this condition have not changed for 60 years. The believed mechanism is a conflict of information between the inner balance sensors, visual, and proprioceptive systems. Those who suffer from motion sickness tend to rely predominantly on their visual system for balance. If you can’t see where you are going, for example while seated in the back seat of a moving car, your motion sickness gets triggered. If you drive, you see where you’re going and feel fine.

For similar reasons, watching things move can also be a major trigger. The brain wants stable vision. Watching moving objects causes problems for some. Examples include crowded situations, action movies, and scrolling computer screens. In these circumstances, the brain has no stable frame of reference. It becomes confused, resulting in nausea and/or dizziness.

We can help the brain by fixing our eyes on a stable object. In a crowd, try to focus on something that isn’t moving. If in a moving car, try to concentrate on a distant stationary object. Nearby objects that are rapidly moving will confuse the brain. Flashes of light or a pattern of light and shadow also trigger motion sickness.

The balance system is complex and involves the brain analyzing and interpreting information from three major systems: the inner ear sensors for balance (vestibular system), the visual system, and the sensation that goes from the skin, muscles and joints (proprioceptive system).

Any sensation of dizziness and imbalance may result when one or more of these four parts are not functioning well. Therefore, the perceived asymmetries you experience may stem from the vestibular organs, from the proprioceptive system and/or from the brain’s processing of the their information. You did not mention visual issues, but treating these symptoms often involve also addressing the processing of visual information, with and without head movements.

You may wish to pursue assessments to clarify whether you do have asymmetries in your balance system, namely a vestibular assessment (for the inner ear sensors and their connections with eyes and brain) and a physiotherapy assessment, for the proprioceptive and musculo-skeletal systems. Proper treatment/rehabilitation can then be tailored to your needs. 

Vestibular Rehabilitation Exercises

Some of the vestibular rehabilitation activities done under supervision are taught to clients to practice at home in a safe and controlled manner. These activities include:

  • motion-sensitivity exercises such as rolling in bed, sitting to standing, and walking while turning the head publisert her
  • many different balance exercises
  • visual or gaze exercises
  • “target shooting,” that is keeping the head still while moving the eyes, or moving the head and keeping the eyes still
  • the Epley maneuver to re-position ear crystals

A treatment for visually-stimulated vertigo consists of watching things in motion. Audiologist Erica Zaia suggests repeatedly watching full-screen versions of the NED Leader (right and left) video clips on YouTube. When you get the feeling that you want to look away, watch for three to five seconds longer. Becoming accustomed to doing the tai chi “cloud hands” movement follows the same principle; it habituates your brain to the movement of your hands.

Below are some optokinetic exercise videos.

This is a basic one:

These two are harder:

Once you are used to these, try this one:

The following playlists compile complex exercises:


The balance system is complex and involves the brain analyzing and interpreting information from three major systems: the inner ear sensors for balance (vestibular system), the visual system, and the sensation that goes from the skin, muscles and joints (proprioceptive system).

Any sensation of dizziness and imbalance may result when one or more of these four parts are not functioning well. Therefore, the perceived asymmetries you experience may stem from the vestibular organs, from the proprioceptive system and/or from the brain’s processing of the their information. You did not mention visual issues, but treating these symptoms often involve also addressing the processing of visual information, with and without head movements.

You may wish to pursue assessments to clarify whether you do have asymmetries in your balance system, namely a vestibular assessment (for the inner ear sensors and their connections with eyes and brain) and a physiotherapy assessment, for the proprioceptive and musculo-skeletal systems. Proper treatment/rehabilitation can then be tailored to your needs. 

Vestibular Testing

The balance system is complex and involves the brain analyzing and interpreting information from three major systems: the inner ear sensors for balance (vestibular system), the visual system, and the sensation that goes from the skin, muscles and joints (proprioceptive system).

Any sensation of dizziness and imbalance may result when one or more of these four parts are not functioning well. Therefore, the perceived asymmetries you experience may stem from the vestibular organs, from the proprioceptive system and/or from the brain’s processing of the their information. You did not mention visual issues, but treating these symptoms often involve also addressing the processing of visual information, with and without head movements.

You may wish to pursue assessments to clarify whether you do have asymmetries in your balance system, namely a vestibular assessment (for the inner ear sensors and their connections with eyes and brain) and a physiotherapy assessment, for the proprioceptive and musculo-skeletal systems. Proper treatment/rehabilitation can then be tailored to your needs. 

Vision

The balance system is complex and involves the brain analyzing and interpreting information from three major systems: the inner ear sensors for balance (vestibular system), the visual system, and the sensation that goes from the skin, muscles and joints (proprioceptive system).

Any sensation of dizziness and imbalance may result when one or more of these four parts are not functioning well. Therefore, the perceived asymmetries you experience may stem from the vestibular organs, from the proprioceptive system and/or from the brain’s processing of the their information. You did not mention visual issues, but treating these symptoms often involve also addressing the processing of visual information, with and without head movements.

You may wish to pursue assessments to clarify whether you do have asymmetries in your balance system, namely a vestibular assessment (for the inner ear sensors and their connections with eyes and brain) and a physiotherapy assessment, for the proprioceptive and musculo-skeletal systems. Proper treatment/rehabilitation can then be tailored to your needs. 

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