'PREHAB': Vestibular prehabilitation to ameliorate the effect of a sudden vestibular loss.

Måns Magnusson, Mikael Karlberg, Fredrik Tjernström

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A sudden unilateral loss or impairment of vestibular function causes vertigo, dizziness and impaired postural function. In most occasions, everyday activities supported or not by vestibular rehabilitation programs will promote compensation and the symptoms subside. As the compensatory process requires sensory input, matching performed motor activity, both motor learning of exercises and matching to sensory input are required. If there is a simultaneous cerebellar lesion found during surgery of the posterior cranial fossa, there may be a risk of a combined vestibulo-cerebellar lesion, with reduced compensatory abilities and with prolonged or sometimes permanent disability. On the other hand, a slow gradual loss of unilateral function occurring as the subject continues well everyday activities may go without any prominent symptoms. We therefore implemented a pre treatment plan before planned vestibular lesions (prehab). This was first done in subject undergoing gentamicin treatment for Meniere's disease (MD). Subjects perform vestibular exercises for 14 days before the first gentamicin installation and then continue doing so until free of symptoms. Most subjects would only experience slight dizziness while losing vestibular function. We then expanded the approach to patients with brainstem tumours requiring surgery but with remaining vestibular function to ease postoperative symptoms and reduce risk of combined cerebello-vestibular lesions. This patient group was given gentamicin installations trans-tympanically before tumour sugary and then underwent prehab. In all cases there was a caloric loss, loss of VOR evident in the head impulse tests, impaired subjective vertical and horizontal, and reduced caloric function induced by the pre-surgery gentamicin treatment. The prehab eliminated spontaneous and positional nystagmus, subjective symptoms, and postural function up before surgery and allowed for rapid postoperative recovery.The concept of 'pre-lesion rehabilitation' where training is introduced before a planned lesion and if possible paralleled with a gradual function loss expands the potential of rehabilitation. Here it was used for vestibular lesions but it is possible that similar approaches may be developed for other situations, which include foreseeable loss of function.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)153-156
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2011

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Neurology


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