Mild Traumatic Brain Injury/Concussion: your guide to recovery

Dizziness and changes in balance after concussion 

Feeling dizzy, light headed or like the room is spinning can happen after a concussion.

These feelings can be caused by the brain injury or other things like changes in blood pressure, emotional upset or problems with vision or the inner ear. Certain medications can also make you feel dizzy.

After a concussion, sudden movements like getting up too quickly or turning too fast may make feel you feel dizzy. When you are dizzy, you may find it hard to keep your balance. Some people might feel motion sick or nauseated in busy places with bright lights, noise or movement like a shopping mall or movie theatre.

What can I do?

Slow down

It is important to take your time and slow down when doing things like getting out of bed, bending or turning your head. If you feel dizzy, get up slowly and sit on the side of the bed and move your legs up and down for a little while before standing or walking.

Stay active

It is important to keep moving even though you may want to stay away from doing things that make you feel dizzy or off balance. Avoiding physical activity because you are afraid that you will lose your balance can make a fall more likely. It can also lead to inactivity, depression and anxiety which get in the way of getting back to your usual everyday activities.

Exercises that involve walking, muscle strengthening and balancing (i.e. standing on one foot) can help. Go at your own pace and make sure there is something for you to hold onto if you need extra support.

Prevent falls

Having a falls prevention plan in place will mean that you’ll be less likely to fall and hurt yourself.

These simple tips can help you do things safely and prevent falls:

  • Make sure your living area is uncluttered. Keep a clear path to the places you need to go. Make sure there aren’t things in the way that you might trip over such as loose rugs, cords, uneven steps or wet floors.

  • Be aware of things around you that you could hit your head on such as low ceilings or open cupboards.

  • If you have rugs or other furniture that might be a tripping hazard, remove them if you can. Otherwise make sure that furniture is sturdy. Tape down loose mats or cords.

  • Use non-slip mats or a shower chair in the bathroom. You might feel that the heat from the shower can increase your dizziness.

  • Place sturdy furniture close by so that if you feel a change in your balance you have something to grab on to or somewhere to sit. Just make sure they don’t become tripping hazards themselves.

  • Keep items that you use regularly within reach so that you don’t have to climb or bend. Do not climb ladders or work from heights if you feel unsteady or dizzy.

  • Use railings to go up or down the stairs. Hold on to countertops when walking around in your kitchen. Use your cane, walker or wheelchair if you need one.

  • Wear good shoes that fit well and don’t slip.

  • Make sure you have enough light to see in each room, and on stairs. Use night lights in the bathroom and hallway.
  • Do not read or text when walking.

If dizziness and balance problems last longer than a week or two or get worse, see your doctor or health care provider. A referral to an ear doctor or physiotherapist may help.