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Thursday, June 26, 2008

Was my Inner Ear damaged???

I just returned from my Brain Injury Survivor Support Group tonight. There are several such support groups throughout the valley, but I attend one at Cottonwood Hospital. Tonight's topic was So you think you can balance? Tips to managing a balance disorder as the world turns. Many TBI Survivors have balance problems (including me!)

There are three parts of the human ear (inner, middle, and outer). The outer ear is the part that you see on your body (the part that that's connected to the earrings I'm wearing) - the middle ear is the part that hears - and the inner ear is responsible for the sensations of balance and motion.

It's safe to assume that my inner ear was damaged in the car accident but my mom doesn't remember and too many years have passed to look at the medical records (I still have some records but none say anything about inner ear).

The occupational therapist who spoke to the group asked if any one of us experiences dizziness. Personally, I think of dizziness as "a feeling of head spinning for an extended period of time." At first I didn't raise my hand because I don't experience this "continual spinning feeling." But I do feel as if I'm playing catch-up when I turn my head quickly from side-to-side or up-down. It's a brief head-spinning/ache feeling. I assumed this was simply because my brain was hurt, but after tonight, I think it's that my inner ear was damaged.

Unfortunately, damage to the inner ear can never be completely repaired. But you can adapt.

I remember my head constantly spinning when I was first discharged from the hospital. But over time (13 years!) I've adapted and strengthen my inner ear by challenging my balance through exercise.

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