Better Balance: It IS Rocket Science

May 14, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
Nearly 90 million Americans will suffer from dizziness or balance problems at some time in their lives ? problems that can lead to a bad fall, broken bones ? even death. Math teacher Mike Marion loves shaping young minds. That is, when he's not worried about falling over.

"I looked like a drunken sailor and I was afraid I was going to get thrown out of school," Marion says.

A few years ago, a bike accident left him with unexplained dizziness. Today, he's undergoing a unique therapy. And yes, it really is rocket science.

"The NeuroCom Balance Manager was developed by a NASA rocket scientist to take a look at balance in astronauts," says Connie Weglarz, P.T., D.P.T., a physical therapist with the Balance and Mobility Program at Scottsdale Healthcare in Scottsdale, Ariz.

The space age NeuroCom balance booth helps identify what's causing a patient's unsteadiness. Infrared goggles tracks Marion's eyes, and audiologists test his hearing and inner ear. Together, the tests and special exercises offer new hope to help diagnose, then correct problems that make patients unsteady. For Marion, the problem turned out to be damage to a nerve in his inner ear.

"We can make them better and that's a great feeling," says Amy Ariss, Au.D., FAAA, a clinical audiologist at Scottsdale Healthcare.

Following a bone infection and foot amputation, Rosemary Roberts' is learning to walk again. In the booth, Roberts learns to negotiate real life hazards, helping her regain her stability and her confidence.

"I'm a very independent person and this has helped me to be the old me," Roberts says.

On average, patients see four to five doctors before getting a proper diagnosis for problems with dizziness. If you have any problems with balance or vertigo, experts say not to take it lightly. You should see a specialist as soon as possible.

FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT:
Scottsdale Healthcare
www.shc.org

NeuroCom International, Inc.
www.onbalance.com


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