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Acoustic neuroma (brain tumor) balance issues

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  • Acoustic neuroma (brain tumor) balance issues

    Last winter it seemed that all my lessons ended in tears of frustration. My riding was on a downward spiral and both my wonderful instructor and I were baffled by it. I could not seem to tell where my body was or what it was doing. This was more than the normal 'possessed' hand or leg that we all experience. When I noticed hearing loss in my left ear and began to get dizzy spells, I went to the doctor. An MRI revealed that I had a benign brain tumor called an acoustic neuroma. Suddenly it all made sense. On one level I was relieved to have it all explained but now came the hard part of dealing with killing the tumor then regaining as much as possible, the balance I had lost. I elected to have intense radiation therapy called CyberKnife surgery to kill the tumor. That was a week ago and I am now dealing with the side effects of the treatment...dizzyness, nausea,tinnitus. I walk like a drunken sailor. Since my diagnosis I have only been able to ride at the walk. My teacher has been very encouraging and helpful making up interesting exercises to challenge me....shoulder in to travers, leg yield head to wall, renvers on a circle etc...In a few weeks I will be 'cleared' to return to driving a car and riding. I have vestibular rehab exercises to do and I know that will help. I am anxious to do whatever I can to regain my balance and pursue my dressage goals. Anyone know of someone who has had a similar challenge? Any thoughts on exercises that might be helpful?

  • #2
    I have balance problems with my MS plus I don't have a proprioceptive sense. My balance problems are probably not as severe as yours, but they never get any better and yours may. I love riding at the walk. I don't have much energy, walking suits me just fine.

    The biggest help for my front-to-back balance is keeping my face vertical. When my face is vertical my spine seems to get to the right place and my head is properly balanced on my spine even though I cannot "feel" the balancing. A lot of dressage riders tend to look down, and this can really mess up the front-to-back feeling of balance. Look straight ahead or, if your brain will allow it look UP around 5 to 10 degrees. As a side benefit when I look up when my face is vertical my horses tend to get off their forehands.

    The biggest help for my side-to-side balance is to keep my weight mostly in my stirrups, heels down, toes out some, weight on the ball of my big toe, so I feel like there is a more or less stable "floor" under my feet.

    I often stagger when I walk. After riding and following the horse's back with my seat I often stop staggering for a while. It feels like riding a walking horse gives me the experience of moving my own body properly for walking on my own two feet. I do not know if it would help as much if I did not keep my weight in the stirrups.


    • #3
      I'm so sorry you're going through this. My dad had surgery for the same thing, and on top of that had a few complications after surgery requiring a second surgery.

      He too had major balance issues initially, but they did improve with time and a few months later I'd say he's pretty darn good. The only time I notice anything is watching him walk down stairs; he's just a little more tentative. He's not a rider, but I know the balance exercises helped a ton for him as did time as his brain learned to balance with just vestibular input from one side.


      • #4
        I have an acoustic neuroma. I am no longer able to ride because my vertigo is so severe. I had the gamma knife procedure to reduce the mass and things got better temporarily. Unfortunately my mass is an over achiever, faster growing neuroma and I need to have the gamma knife done again.

        Even after the procedure I was not able to ride. It helped with the headaches and tinnitus but the vertigo is still very bad.
        www.learntolikepink.com my journey with breast cancer


        • #5
          Very different problem but

          When I was recovering from my broken ankle I had problems with strength and fine motor control. I could not balance on that one foot.
          I did a lot of exercises in the pool....much softer landing, also spent what seemed like hours just walking around in the water. The water provides resistance and support at the same time
          I wasn't always a Smurf
          Penmerryl Sophie RIDSH
          "I ain't as good as I once was but I'm as good once as I ever was"
          The ignore list is my friend. It takes 2 to argue.