What Does Rehabilitation From An Acoustic Neuroma Involve?

acoustic neuroma treatment - woman suffering headache

Acoustic neuroma, also known as a vestibular schwannoma, is a benign (non-cancerous) tumour that develops on the cranial nerve. This is the nerve that runs from the inner ear to the brain and controls the hearing and balance. Therefore although it is non-cancerous it can have serious side-effects and symptoms, and may require treatment.

The tumour will not spread to other parts of the body, but it can disrupt the ability of the eighth cranial nerve to transmit signals to the brain, resulting in problems with balance and hearing. It may also affect the facial nerves, making it difficult for patients to move facial muscles and carry out functions such as swallowing.

They are a rare type of tumour, and in many cases the typical symptoms have another cause of explanation. However, if symptoms such as hearing loss (often in one ear more than the other), tinnitus (a persistent ringing sound in the ears) or dizziness and difficulty with balance are present, these should be investigated further by a doctor.

The doctor may arrange an MRI scan to confirm or rule out the presence of an acoustic neuroma. If the diagnosis is positive, it can be an overwhelming experience. If the symptoms are not causing serious problems, it may be decided to actively monitor the tumour with regular scans but carry out no further treatment.

An acoustic neuroma that is causing troublesome symptoms may be removed with surgery or treated with radiation therapy to curb its growth. The type of treatment may depend on the size of the tumour, the severity of the symptoms, and the general age and state of health of the patient.

When the tumour has been successfully treated, this is often just the first step in the journey, as most patients will need to go through a process of rehabilitation and recovery. This process is multi-focused and will depend on the symptoms and side effects that are present. It will be tailored to individual patients, but may involve the following:

Neuro physiotherapy to regain balance and mobility. This may involve learning how to sit up straight and walk using supports, and eventually regaining the ability to walk independently.

Speech and language therapy to improve swallow function and vocal strength, and facial physiotherapy to improve facial function. It may also include occupational therapy to help the patient regain full control of their upper limbs and improve coordination, and specialist vestibular therapy to help regain control over balance.

The patient may also require neuropsychology if they have experienced issues with cognitive function and memory processing. These can be huge hurdles that require a lot of hard work and determination to overcome.

For more information about acoustic neuroma treatment, please contact Mr Patrick Grover of Amethyst Radiotherapy.