If you are experiencing dizziness after head injury, you are not alone. Dizziness is another common physical effect of brain trauma.
Most of the time, dizziness will fade on its own. Even if it doesn’t, however, there are therapies you can use to eliminate it.
In today’s article, we’ll look at some exercises that treat dizziness after head injury.
But before we dig into those, you’ll need to know what is causing your dizziness in the first place.
Causes of Dizziness After Head Injury
Not all dizziness after a head injury is the same. Some forms of dizziness will make you feel like the entire room is spinning, while others just cause you to lose your balance.
Each type of dizziness is caused by something different, and so requires a different treatment.
Some various causes of dizziness after head injury include:
- Migraines and other headaches after brain injury.
- Inner ear problems.
- Pinched nerve in your neck
- Damage to the cerebellum, the part of your brain responsible for balance.
- Damage to the occipital lobe, the part of your brain that controls eye movement.
- Low blood pressure.
Treating Dizziness After Brain Injury
To treat dizziness problems, you must address the root cause.
This means if low blood pressure or headaches are causing your dizziness, you’ll need to work with your doctor to get those under control. If your neck was injured in an accident, try massage therapy to see if that brings relief from vertigo.
Sometimes it’s difficult to tell where the dizziness is stemming. You might need to do some tests before you can figure it out.
If you’ve eliminated every other cause and you still struggle with vertigo, then your problem is probably coming from your inner ear.
How Your Inner Ear Affects Your Balance
Your inner ear contains a fluid and fine, hair-like sensors that monitor your head rotation.
The inner ear also has organs that hold crystals, which help your body know if your head is moving forward or backward.
These organs and fluids in the inner ear make up the vestibular system, which helps your body keep its balance.
Sometimes after a head injury, the vestibular system becomes impaired. This can happen in three ways:
- The crystals in your inner ear can move, which will throw off your balance. Doctors call this condition Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo. (BPPV)
- The fluid in your inner ear can leak into your middle ear.
- The nerve connecting the vestibular system to your brain can become damaged.
Damage to the brain regions responsible for balance will also cause dizziness.
Exercises to Eliminate Dizziness
You can treat most dizziness problems using balance exercises for brain injury patients. These are effective if you want to retrain your brain and regain strength to balance your body again.
However, if your dizziness is stemming from your inner ear, balance exercises won’t be much help.
Luckily, there are exercises that treat inner ear problems! Here are three of the most effective ones.
1. Epley Maneuver
The Epley maneuver was designed to move the crystals in your ear back into their proper place.
It involves moving the head into four positions and staying in each position for about thirty seconds.
A doctor or therapist must perform the Epley maneuver; you cannot do it on your own. It usually takes about fifteen minutes to complete and has an 80% cure rate.
If your doctor does not know how to do the Epley Maneuver, you can find a list of certified vestibular specialists here.
For a good demonstration of the Epley Maneuver, check out this video!
2. Brandt-Daroff Exercises
If the Epley Maneuver doesn’t work for you, the Brandt-Daroff exercises might.
Unlike the Epley, you can do these exercises on your own, though we still recommend having a therapist help you the first time.
Here’s how you do the Brandt-Daroff exercises:
- Sit on the edge of your couch or bed.
- Lie down on your left side. As you are going down, turn your head up at a 45-degree angle. Try to do both as quickly as possible.
- Stay on your side, with your head looking up at 45 degrees, for 30 seconds.
- Sit up straight for thirty seconds.
- Repeat these steps on your right side.
- Do five times on each side
You’ll want to do these exercises at least twice a day.
Here’s another video if you need to see the exercises in action.
3. Gaze Stabilization Exercises
Sometimes the cause of your dizziness is actually due to a problem with your vision. That’s where gaze stabilization exercises can help.
You can do these exercises by following these steps:
- Start by sitting in a chair. When you can do the exercises for two minutes without getting dizzy, try them while standing.
- Draw an X in the center of a piece of paper.
- Hold the paper in your hand at arm’s length. Keep it at eye level.
- While focusing your eyes on the X, turn your head side to side. Move as fast as you can without the X getting blurry.
- Do this for 2 minutes or as long as you can handle.
- Now repeat the exercise, but instead of moving your head left and right, move it up and down.
- Finally, tape the paper on a wall five feet away. Repeat all the exercises, first moving your head left and right, then up and down.
The more often you do these exercises, the less severe your dizziness should become.
Overcoming Dizziness After Head Injury
Dizziness after a head injury is usually only a temporary problem. If it does not go away on its own, there are many options available to you.
The best thing you can do is schedule a visit with a vestibular specialist who can determine what the cause of your vertigo is.
If there are no specialists near you, your physical therapists should be familiar with all the exercises in this article. So make sure to ask them if they can help you get rid of your dizzy spells.
With the right exercises and maneuvers, it’s possible to overcome dizziness and find your balance again.