In order to maintain balance your brain uses information from three main sources:
- sensors in your joints and muscles (proprioceptive information)
- your eyes (visual information)
- your inner ears (vestibular information)
If you have a problem with your balance it could be the result of an issue in any of these three information sources. Our speciality is the vestibular system (the balance organs in your inner ears).
You will most likely be referred to us by your ear, nose and throat (ENT) consultant for specialist testing.
We also offer vestibular rehabilitation for patients who have been diagnosed with a problem with their vestibular balance system.
What to expect from a balance assessment
Your balance assessment will usually start with a detailed chat with the specialist about your symptoms. This will be followed by a number of balance tests. There are a range of tests that we can complete; we may choose specific tests based on your symptoms. We will usually be able to explain the test results to you on the day - if we are unable to explain the results on the day your doctor will go through them with you at your follow up appointment.
If you are diagnosed with a vestibular problem, we may offer you a vestibular rehabilitation appointment.
It is advised that you bring a friend or family member to the appointment with you to escort you home. We do not recommend that you drive after a balance assessment as you may be feeling dizzy.
Vestibular rehabilitation is used for patients who have been diagnosed with a vestibular pathology (a balance/dizziness problem caused by the inner ear). It comprises of various exercises, usually involving head movements to try to desensitise the brain to provoking movements and reduce symptoms.
You will usually be given a balance assessment appointment initially, although if your vestibular disorder has been diagnosed elsewhere you may be referred directly for rehabilitation. We will demonstrate the exercises to you at your appointment and ensure that you are able to complete the exercises safely.
You will be provided with a hand-out of your exercises - it is important that you complete your exercises at home regularly if you wish to experience the benefits.
If you have been diagnosed with a condition called benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV), your vestibular rehabilitation appointment will be booked for a specialist to treat the condition with a specific manoeuvre (please see our patient information leaflet for more information on BPPV and the treatment).
We are able to see children for balance testing and in some cases offer rehabilitation exercises, although our testing may be limited by the child’s developmental age.
We have specialist staff who are able to carry out these appointments and we adapt our testing and exercises to both the child and family's needs.