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Flight Simulators Treat Dizziness

Review on June 09, 2009

Vertigo, or dizziness, is experienced by a third of people during their lifetime. For the fortunate, dizziness lasts only for a short bout but the unlucky may experience episodes of dizziness for years. Dizziness leads to imbalance and occurs due to problems within the inner ear, the vestibular system. The inner ear contains fluid-filled chambers that relay information about balance to the brain. When a person has the flu or experiences a head injury, the signals become confused and the person experiences dizziness.

dizziness flight simulator

Researchers from Hammersmith Hospitals NHS Trust and Imperial College London sought to seek a cure for this problem. They treated 40 patients with a history of balance problems. Using the same flight simulators used to train pilots and astronauts, they found patients can experiences relief from chronic dizziness.

The patients went through standard physiotherapy treatment. Half of the group also completed the stimulator therapy. The treatment included the use of a rotating disk, spinning chair and video-based exercises. As used for astronauts and pilots in training, it is known that this treatment strengthens the visual input to the brain so balance is improved and dizziness reduced.

Ultimately, the researchers wanted to test if strengthening other inputs of patients with inner ear damage there would be a reduction in the dizziness they experienced. Their hypothesis proved correct. The researchers found that visual stimulation twice a week for two months cut the intensity and frequency of dizziness in half. It also reduced anxiety and depression, common to imbalance sufferers, by a third.

Researchers are confident in these exercises used to treat dizziness. They are simple with no side effects. They hope they will become standard treatment for chronic dizziness. Menopausal women experiencing dizziness are encouraged to talk to their doctors about alternative treatments.

Sources:
  • Hutchinson, Susan M.D. "The Stages of a Woman's Life: Menstruation, Pregnancy, Nursing, Perimenopause, Menopause". November 2007.
  • Love, Susan M.D. Menopause and Hormone Book. New York: Three Rivers Press, 2003.
  • BMJ Group. "Menopause: What is it?" Patient Leaflet. 2007.