What is vestibular rehabilitation?
“Vestibular rehabilitation is an exercise-based program, designed by a specialty-trained vestibular physical therapist, to improve balance and reduce problems related to dizziness.”
Personally I have tried Vestibular Rehab Therapy-VRT eight different times with three different therapists over the last 15 years. I have failed at each attempt. Mainly because having bilateral Meniere’s is a horse of a different color, so to speak. Due to the fact that I have had a vestibular nerve section on my right side and the vestibular system in my other ear has been ravaged by Meniere’s also.
What do I do? I created my own VRT program. It consists of water exercises. Seeing that I qualify for the SilverSneakers program, due to being disabled and through my Medicare Gap Coverage, I’m taking advantage of all that our local recreation center has to offer that fits my needs.
Usually I try to find a time when the Recreation Center is less busy. It counts down on the noise and sensory overload, especially in the pool area. Yes, there are days when I physically cannot go and workout. Yes, there are days when all I do is just use the hot tub. I’m fine with that, at least I got out of the house. Yes, sometimes I don’t go for a week.
My routine starts with a two mile recumbent stationary bike ride. Sounds pretty boring, but because my hearing aids have Bluetooth capabilities I can use my phone to stream music directly to my hearing aids. I love that. Next thing you know, my fifteen minutes have gone by in the time it takes to listen to a few of my favorite tunes.
My workout items that I require are minimal. My gym clothes, swimsuit, towel, water shoes, my quad cane, swim plugs for my ears, phone, hearing aids, gym bag, and a lock. My water shoes are actually bare foot running shoes. I prefer them over water socks. They are easier for me to put on and remove for me. Those along with my quad cane, I feel pretty secure while walking in the locker room and pool area. My swim plugs are custom-made by my audiologist. They fit like a glove, perfect waterproof seal.
You may be wondering what type of exercises for balance do I do in the pool. I swim four lengths of the pool at the end each of length, I do one the following for improving my balance.
A. Stand with your feet together, knees slightly bent.
B. Step sideways in a slow and controlled manner, moving one foot to the side first.
C. Move the other to join it.
Avoid dropping your hips as you step. Perform 10 steps each way or step from one side of the room to the other.
This involves walking sideways by crossing one foot over the other.
A. Start by crossing your right foot over your left.
B. Bring your left foot to join it.
Attempt 5 cross-steps on each side. If necessary, put your fingers against a wall for stability. The smaller the step, the more you work on your balance.
This one I walk with my arms out to my side or over my head.
A. Standing upright, place your right heel on the floor directly in front of your left toe.
B. Then do the same with your left heel. Make sure you keep looking forward at all times.
A. Start by standing facing the wall, with arms outstretched and your fingertips touching the wall.
B. Lift your left leg, keep your hips level and keep a slight bend in the opposite leg. Gently place your foot back on the floor.
Hold the lift for 5 to 10 seconds and perform 3 on each side.
Since I’m in the pool, I don’t use the wall.
For more information on balance exercises from NHS use the link below .
Finally, when I’m finished with my workout: the bike, the laps, the balancing act, I get to treat myself to the best part of it. I earned it. Remember to start out slowly and increase your time when you feel confident. This isn’t Olympic training, it’s Training for Life training. To me the best part about doing balance exercises in the pool is I’m not going to break anything when I fall. Have fun. Make a new friend. Try it. Now back into the hot tub I go. – Daniel Pancy