Archive for May, 2009

Fixing Dizziness News Report

In 2008, ABC7 Chicago Healthbeat did a news story on “Fixing Dizziness” and Michele was featured. How cool! She did a fantastic job of showcasing what vestibular rehab therapy can do for dizzy patients. Check it out!

Another Dizzy Read

This morning I came across “Dizzy: What You Need to Know About Managing and Treating Balance Disorders” by Jack Wazen and Deborah Mitchell. It’s an easy read for the summer months ahead but from the excerpts I’ve read, it’s also very interesting. Wazen and Mitchell give countless real world examples and case studies in this book, to which dizzy patients will be able to relate.

Check out the excerpts at:,M1


Progress Report

The most satisfying part of working for a balance center is seeing the progress that each patient makes.

K. came to the balance center for severe dizziness and imbalance. Both of his inner ears had been affected – one ear suffered side effects after being injected with gentamicin for an ear infection and the other ear he had nerves sectioned through surgery.

During his initial consultation, K. discussed how he had become dependent upon family members to go anywhere around town because his balance was so poor and he was so uneasy on his feet. He was skeptical about vestibular therapy but felt it was his last hope of independent living.

Two months of therapy later, and consistently doing his home exercises, K. is taking the city bus to and from the center by himself. He is still a little wobbly from time to time but he has much better awareness and control of his surroundings. K. improves with every therapy session and his self confidence in public places has vastly improved.

Clinical Balance Disorder Testing

One of my favorite pieces of equipment used at our office to test and treat vestibular disorders is the Balance Quest machine. Besides the fact that it looks very cool and high-tech (and it is!), it uses technology to mimic every day occurrences that disturb sensory information trying to reach your brain.

Balance Quest - Micromedical

Balance Quest is like a virtual reality game. We put virtual environment goggles on each patient and have them stand on a static platform. The platform will become floating once each timed interval begins. During each interval you will be asked to locate and hit a certain target seen in your goggles – to hit the target you will move the floating platform by leaning in any number of 6 degrees of freedom (ie. forward, backward, up, down). The results of how long it takes for you to hit these targets as well as other pertinent information is scored for accuracy.

Although it is fun and game-like, Balance Quest ultimately measures every movement and sway that your body makes to hit the target. The machine processes these movements and determines how the central nervous system reacts to disturbances in the incoming sensory information. As you progress with your treatment, the targets can be changed to increase in difficulty.

*For additional infomation:

For the Non-Dizzy Supporter

Dizzy patients often feel isolated because vestibular disorders are “invisible”, that is, you can’t see what is making them suffer. Patients in our clinic often describe situations where they are explaining their vestibular symptoms to a family or friend, and they’ll get the response “well, you don’t LOOK sick”.

As supporters of our dizzy friends, family members, and colleagues, we must remember that not every disorder can be seen. Imagine someone coming to us to talk about a medical issue such as cancer, MS, or arthritis. In these situations, because we know how serious they can be, we would never say “well, you don’t LOOK sick”. The same should be said for dizziness and balance disorders.

This reminds me of a Jury Duty case my mother was on a number of years ago. A gentleman was sueing a hotel chain for payment of his medical bills and therapy to relieve his tinnitus and dizziness brought on by a faulty fire alarm in the hotel bathroom going off while he was showering. He was in chronic pain and my mother told me that he spent most of the week long court case with his head in his hands, in severe pain. The prosecutor kept insinuating that this gentleman was lying about the pain he was in – because no one else could see this “invisible” problem.

There are a number of things that non-dizzy individuals can do to support and understand dizzy patients.


  • Talk to individuals with dizziness and balance disorders and ask how they feel, what it is like, their challenges. You can learn a lot just by asking!
  • Don’t say “you don’t LOOK sick”. They are. End of story.
  • Don’t say you know how they feel if you have never had a dizziness/balance disorder.
  • Join them for a vestibular support group – you’ll learn a lot just by listening.

Read About Vestibular Disorders:

  • “Invisible Illnesses and Disabilities”, by Sharon Smith-Merritt, is a personal account of a dizzy patient.
  • “Feeling Dizzy: Understanding and Treating Vertigo, Dizziness, and Other Balance Disorders,” by Brian Blakley and Marc Siegel, gives a basic overview of balance disorders.

Join a Support Group:

Twitter With Us

LifeStyle has  joined the latest craze, Twitter, and we would love to Twitter with you!

Michele and the LifeStyle staff will be updating Twitter with patient updates – patients we evaluate and treat, how we evaluate and treat them, and what conditions and disorders we evaluate and treat – and what happens at the office during the day. You’ll really get a good idea of what is going on at LifeStyle!

Twitter us at: balancemichele

Driving and Dizziness

One of the discussions at the 2nd VSG was how vestibular disorders can impair one’s ability to drive. Of course, everyone doesn’t fall into this category, but it happens enough to cause some frustration amongst VSG members.

Driving in dense traffic, on highways, or during the night or in heavy rain may result in an increase in symptoms due to the high level of external stimuli trying to reach the brain at once. Additionally, turning one’s head to park the car or turning to check for cars before changing a lane may also lead to feelings of dizziness in vestibular disorder sufferers. Impairment of one’s ability to sense movement can cause serious problems while trying to operate a car. Physicians can advise patients whether they should stop driving until their symptoms are gone.

One case study I found while searching the web gave a couple great Q&A’s, including how vestibular disoders affect driving, which vestibular disorders in particular affect driving, and how to assess your ability to drive. Q&A starts at the bottom of Page 369:,M1