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Early Concussion Education

Balance and Dizziness

People with concussion commonly report problems with balance. Dizziness and feeling “off balance” when sitting or standing often happens at some point during your recovery. Your balance depends on many factors including:

  • Medications: Many common medicines can make you feel dizzy, off balance, and lightheaded. Ask your doctor if any of the medicines you are taking may be causing dizziness or balance problems. Changing the medicine or dose may help.
  • Blood pressure: A drop in blood pressure when standing or sitting up suddenly can make you feel lightheaded and dizzy. Having your blood pressure taken while in a lying, sitting, and standing position may help diagnose balance problems that are related to blood pressure.
  • Problems with eyesight: Eyesight is important to keep your balance. Eyesight problems such as double vision, visual instability, partial loss of vision, and problems with depth perception can make your balance worse.
  • Inner ear problems: If your vestibular system (tiny organs in your inner ear) is damaged you may have problems with balance, dizziness, or a sudden feeling that either you’re spinning or your head is spinning. Following a concussion, the brain can get abnormal signals about the position and movement of your head in space. A Vestibular Physical Therapist may be able to help you regain your balance.

Managing These Symptoms

  • If you need to do something visual (e.g., reading or using the computer) do it for a short time and take breaks.
  • Set a timer to remind you to rest your eyes for 10 to 15 minutes every hour (or more frequently if your symptoms return). Also try relaxation exercises that focus on focus on body awareness.
  • Use your finger, a bookmark, or line guide when reading so your eyes don’t have to work as hard to move over the page. Limit scanning and scrolling on the computer.
  • Listen to books on tape instead of reading them.
  • Make the font on the computer bigger.
  • Adjust the screen settings so there’s less glare
  • Limit social activities to small groups of people to start and increase the length of time and size of the group as you can tolerate
  • When you eat out, go early or late and ask for a table on the outer edge of the restaurant. Face a wall so you don’t see people and staff moving around.
  • Stay away from busy places that have lots to look at and can make you dizzy (e.g., movies, sporting events, theatres).