I’m going in once a week for vestibular rehabilitation therapy (VRT) now. Today was brutal. Lots of balancing exercises with head movements that weren’t too bad with my eyes open, but almost impossible once I closed my eyes.
It turns out I’m dealing with bilateral vestibular hypofunction, which means my vestibular system (inner ears) aren’t working in terms of balance because my brain stopped trusting the information it was sending back in late January/early February for some reason (they think it was probably because of my temporary bout with BPPV). Since it wasn’t being used much anymore, my vestibular system kinda stopped working (or is barely working), and by early March my brain was overcompensating so much to make up for the lack of information from my inner ears that it started screwing with my cognitive functions, which in turn triggered short term memory loss, confusion, panic, and mental and physical exhaustion. So I wasn’t going nuts – but it would have been nice to have had this explained earlier (my Doctor didn’t really tell me anything other than my MRI was fine and I needed to go to physical therapy. My therapist, on the other hand, got my medical records and explained everything that was happening to me as well as what we were going to do to fix it. She rocks!)
The VRT forces my vestibular system to function again, my brain to relearn how to read the information it’s being sent, as well as coordinating my eye movement in relation to my head movement (that’s to fix the oscillopsia, which is when everything I see bounces up and down or side to side with head movement, walking, or when I hit a bump while driving. It’s one of the symptoms of vestibular hypofunction and it’s why I hate driving so much–‘specially at night.)
Besides the VRT, I have exercises that I’m supposed to do at home every day that coordinate head movement with eye movement, and “balance tasks for vestibular system adaptation.” All this really means is that I shake my head in different directions while trying to focus on a letter on an eye chart, and do balance exercises with my eyes open and then closed. It’s also a lot harder than I expected. Sadly I could have done all this about three months ago without even thinking about it – while now I have trouble standing up straight with my eyes closed.
My physical therapist also recommended using our Wii Fit board for additional balance exercises, and said that yard work is a very good form of therapy too. I wonder how painting walls and installing hardwood floors ranks as therapy?