September 22, 2017

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ACMC Hearing & Balance Center: Celebrating Five Years of Success, Part 1

One minute you’re fine. The next minute you feel dizzy, the room is spinning, you can’t see straight, you’re nauseated and you may even lose your balance. At some point in our lives most of us have had some sort of experience with dizziness.

Dizziness can occur from simply standing up too quickly after sitting for a long time or bending over to get something from the floor. Many cases of dizziness go away on their own. For others it can be a serious, debilitating and life-changing experience. But it doesn’t have to be. Typically it can be treated. In fact dizziness is the third most common reason why people go to see a doctor, and in patients over the age of 65, it’s the most common reason people go to see a doctor in our lives, most of us have had some sort of experience with dizziness.

Sometimes patients have both dizziness and imbalance, but others may only complain that their balance feels off. They know something has changed, but don’t know what it is exactly. Patients should listen to their body because it’s often right when something is affecting their balance. In most cases, it’s quicker to fix if they come to ACMC’s Hearing & Balance Center as soon as they notice something is wrong.

While a family physician and some physical therapists can diagnose a condition in the vestibular system causing dizziness or imbalance, the technology used for evaluations plays a vital role in the success of resolving the symptoms. The vestibular system is a portion of the inner ear that is made up of motion sensors. The motion sensors help maintain upright balance and clear vision during body and/or head movements and can be the cause of dizziness or imbalance when they aren’t functioning properly. At ACMC we recognized an unmet need in our community. With the advanced training of a vestibular therapist and evaluative and rehabilitative equipment, we can provide treatment close to home.

Jackie’s Patient Success Story

As a 60-year-old business owner, I work long hours every day—hours I spend on my feet serving customers and raising a family. My job requires me to lift, balance and carry multiple objects at a time, which was never difficult for me until one day I felt my entire sense of balance shift.

I was on a fall sight-seeing trip with my family when I started to feel like something wasn’t right. I became dizzy and noticed my vision was blurred. Even talk of food made me nauseous. I couldn’t even walk to the restroom on my own. Knowing that something was wrong, and that it could be serious, my husband rushed me to the emergency room. They sent me home with medication and an appointment to see a doctor. I slept off and on for eight days, getting up only to use the restroom and to take my medication. When I came in for my doctor appointment, I was referred to ACMC’s Hearing & Balance Center. Based on the evaluation findings and results of my balance testing, Tami told me I most likely experienced a viral inner ear infection that can cause symptoms of a viral illness, including dizziness initially, and can leave a person with chronic impaired balance. I learned home exercises to do several times a day, and I had appointments to return for custom balance training on ACMC’s balance equipment once a week. When I first started treatment, I couldn’t walk a straight line or balance on a cushion used for therapy, but within a week my dizziness was much improved. Unfortunately the imbalance lingered. With Tami’s help and encouragement, I made steady progress with each weekly treatment of balance training. After seven treatments, along with my home exercises, I was told my treatment at the center was complete. At my last appointment, the balance testing was repeated, and my balance was back to normal. Working with ACMC’s Hearing & Balance Center helped to restore my balance. Best of all, I’m back to working and participating in all my normal daily activities.

Read Part 2 of “ACMC Hearing & Balance Center: Celebrating Five Years of Success.”