Cawthorne-Cooksey Vestibular Exercises

Dizziness, vertigo and balance problems--these disorders are frequently related to conditions affecting the inner ear, known as vestibular disorders. Exercises such as Cawthorne-Cooksey have been used as a cheap and effective method to improve unwanted symptoms related to vestibular disorders. These exercises should be performed slowly and are used to establish ways to overcome the onset of dizziness.

  1. Exercises When Sitting

    • While a physical therapist can direct these exercises during the initial learning period, they should be performed in a slow, controlled motion. As you become more comfortable with them, you may increase speed.

      Seated exercises should be performed at a chair with arm rests.

      1. Eye exercises: At maximum speed, perform 20 times fast.
        Move the eyes up then down (20 times); side to side (20 times); then repeat each while focusing on your index finger at outstretched length.
      2. Head exercises: Move the head up and down (20 times); side to side (20 times).
      3. Shoulders: Shrug up and down (20 times); rotate (20 times).
      4. Place several objects on the ground and bend down and pick them up 20 times.
      5. Circle the head while rotating the shoulders (starting slowly, then increasing speed).
      6. Move the trunk of the body in a circle, first with the eyes open, then with the eyes closed (20 times).

    Standing Exercises

    • While standing, repeat steps 1, 2, and 3 from the seated exercises.

      1. Stand up and sit back down, first with the eyes open (10 times), then with the eyes closed (10 times).
      2. Throw a ball from hand to hand, holding the ball above eye level (10 times).
      3. Squat, then throw the ball from hand to hand behind the knees (10 times).
      4. Sit down and stand up, and while standing, make one revolution in between each (10 times).
      5. Repeat number 6 from earlier exercise.

    Walking Exercises

      1. Walk across a room with eyes open going down, and eyes closed going back (10 times).
      2. Walk up and down a hill or slope with eyes opened, then closed.
      3. Stand on one foot with eyes opened, then repeat with eyes closed.
      4. Walk with one foot in front of the other, first with eyes opened, then with closed eyes.

      As an additional practical exercise, games such as bowling and shuffleboard, that require up and down changes in motion also may help with dizziness. While these exercises may seem time-consuming, they are vital to helping achieve balance when a dizzy spell occurs.

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