An interactive website developed by researchers at the University of Southampton has shown reduced dizziness amongst adults aged 50 and above through a newly developed ‘Balance Retraining’ programme that helps such people carry out vestibular rehabilitation exercises via the internet.
Dizziness is often caused by problems with the vestibular (balance) organ in the inner ear and patients can suffer severe symptoms, triggered by simple everyday movements like turning over in bed, or looking left and right to cross the road.
Very few people who report dizziness to their doctor are referred for treatment — a simple exercise-based therapy called vestibular rehabilitation, which involves nodding and shaking the head.
However, the newly developed ‘Balance Retraining’ programme helps such people to carry out vestibular rehabilitation exercises via the internet — using video demonstrations, instructions and personalised feedback and advice.
“Balance Retraining has been designed to be very straightforward to use and provides individuals with information and instruction about techniques they can use to reduce their dizziness,” said Lucy Yardley, Professor at the University of Southampton in England.
The vestibular rehabilitation exercises are very quick and easy to carry out, and work by encouraging the body’s balance system to re-adjust to the movements that trigger dizziness symptoms.
For the study, published in the journal Annals of Family Medicine, the team included 296 patients with vestibular-related dizziness.
After three months, 40 per cent of people using the site reported that they felt “much better” or “completely well”.
“The results show that Balance Retraining is an effective and appealing method of delivering vestibular rehabilitation to those who need it. They also add to existing evidence that this is a safe and effective means of treating vestibular-related dizziness,” added Adam Geraghty, research psychologist at the University of Southampton