Training and Education of Healthcare Professionals at BalanceMD

What is the training and education of physician and staff?

Training and Education of Physician

Dizziness is a common symptom with many different causes.  Therefore, patients sometimes seek evaluation for their dizzy symptoms from a variety of caregivers, such as their primary care physician, optometrist or ophthalmologist, neurologist, cardiologist, obstetrician or otolaryngologist (ENT).  

However, there are two medical subspecialties which have extensive training involving the symptoms of dizziness and vertigo.  These subspecialties are neuro-otologist and neuro-ophthalmologist.  A neuro-otologist is typically an otolaryngologist (ENT) physician with specialty training in inner ear causes of dizziness and vertigo.  A neuro-ophthalmologist is typically a neurologist or ophthalmologist with specialty training in neurologic disorders of the visual system, including eye movement.  

The inner ears and eyes are intimately connected with multiple neuronal pathways.  Abnormalities of the inner ear or brain which cause dizziness or vertigo will usually be revealed as an abnormality in eye movements.  Most of the vestibular diagnostic evaluation is performed with the patient wearing infrared goggles which track and record all eye movements to specific provocative stimuli, such as placing the head in various positions and warming or cooling the fluid in the inner ear.

Dr. Sanders is a board certified neurologist who specializes in neuro-ophthalmology.  He has been in private practice since 2000.  Currently, he spends about 25% of his time seeing patients with general neuro-ophthalmologic problems and 75% of his time seeing patients with dizziness or vertigo.

Training and Education of Staff

While it is important to find a facility which utilizes a physician with subspecialty training and experience, it is also important to learn the experience and training of the person who is performing the diagnostic evaluation.  An audiologist’s training includes four years of undergraduate studies and another 4 years of audiology.  A portion of an audiologist’s training is in vestibular disorders.  

However, many offices which perform VNGs simply train one of their staff to perform the vestibular testing, someone who typically has no formal training or education in inner ear or brain disfunction in the setting of dizziness or vertigo.

At BalanceMD, Michelle Koley and Sandy Bratton are audiologists with extensive training and many years experience in performing vestibular diagnostic testing.

Physical therapists are numerous, but very few physical therapists have completed useful training in vestibular rehabilitation.  Unfortunately, most physical therapy schools do not include vestibular rehabilitation as part of their curriculum, and if they do, it is often quite limited.  There are many courses available today which serve to improve a physical therapist’s knowledge in vestibular rehabilitation therapy.  In particular, Susan Herdman, PT at Emory University, heads an APTA (American Physical Therapy Association) approved vestibular rehabilitation therapy competency course at Emory University in Atlanta, GA.  

At BalanceMD, Stephanie Ford is a physical therapist who has successfully completed this course in vestibular rehabilitation and has focused her practice in physical therapy on dizziness and imbalance since 2008.

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