Shelley Osterloh ReportingMany people struggle with balance problems. Conditions like vertigo can be very debilitating, but a special clinic in Salt Lake City is helping people with balance problems.
Shannon Noel woke up one morning and felt like her world was turned upside down.
Shannon Noel: "It's not whoa, I feel like I'm dizzy. It's I'm falling and somebody is taking my head and shaking it."
She could barely stand and often lost her balance and fell. Doctors and technicians at the IHC Balance and Hearing Center ran her through a series of tests to determine which of her body's three balance systems was out of whack: her visual cues, her muscles sensory functions, or her ear.
With camera goggles to track eye movements and a moving red dot Dr. Don Worthington watched Shannon's eyes for rapid uncontrolled movement. He discovered Shannon had Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo.
BPPV is a common disorder of the inner ear that occurs when small particles or crystals, which are normally at the top of a tube in the inner ear, are displaced. It is sometimes caused by a head injury, but can occur in older people as the gelatinous fluid that holds the crystals in place, begins to disintegrate.
Don Worthington, Ph.D. IHC Hearing and Balance Center: "Once they get into that canal that's looped back there -- the posterior canal -- why they get trapped because they cannot get out the bottom end. And so then they simply have to be manipulated to get them back to the top"
The procedure to correct this problem is remarkably simple, yet effective. Doctors lower and turn the head to help the crystals fall back to their proper position.
Shannon Noel: "I’m fine, perfect.”
Don Worthington, Ph.D. IHC Hearing and Balance Center: "And we've now analyzed more than 12-hundred patients, and our success rate is 96% with as few as two treatments for this condition. "
Doctors say most people with balance disorders can improve with therapy and most with BPPV can be cured.
Doctors have been able to diagnose the vertigo condition called BPPV for more than 30 years, but it was just 8 years ago that doctors discovered how to treat it.