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I Keep Falling, What Should I Do?

Falls are the second leading cause of unintentional injury deaths worldwide. Learn how neurodiagnostic testing can help you or a loved one prevent a fall.

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Transcript:

I keep falling. What should I do? That's our topic today on Ask the Hearing Doctors.

 

Hi, this is Dr. Wendy Thorne from Hearing Doctors, the Washington, D.C. Metropolitans highest rated audiology practice with over 1500, 5-star reviews. Today we are at the American Institute of Balance, and we're joined by Dr. Richard Gans. So nice to meet you.

 

And you, Dr. Thorne.

 

Yeah. Thank you for taking time to talk with us today.

 

Absolutely.

 

So how does neuro diagnostic testing help prevent a fall?

 

Great question, Dr. Thorne. So, falls are quite serious. The National Institute of Health, even 20 years ago, identified vertigo, dizziness and falls as actually a national health crisis. One of the greatest concerns of older adults is loss of independence. And usually that loss of independence is precipitated by a fall. In fact, 40% of all nursing home admissions are because the person can no longer safely ambulate within their own home.

 

So, fall risk is a great concern. If you look at it from the cost of human suffering and also from a financial aspect, CMS, Medicare, Medicaid are now spending billions of dollars a year in emergency room visits and also hospitalization, usually followed by weeks of rehab in skilled nursing facilities. So, it puts a great stress on patients, their families and the financial infrastructure.

 

Now, here's why testing helps. Human equilibrium is controlled by a combination of balance, the musculoskeletal system and the inner ear. Although most people think about the inner ear as the organ of hearing, which is true. We hear with our ears. The reality of it is that the primary function of the inner ear is balance. It's about giving our sense of the pull of gravity and about our ability to navigate through space This takes rather sophisticated coordination between our eyes, our ears, and our sense of touch.

 

So usually, individuals who have begun to fall are very careful, they find they can't get around in the dark. They have to hold on to things to steady themselves. This testing is able to tell us what part of the system is working. What part of the system may not be working so that when we intervene with balance, retraining therapy, or vestibular rehabilitation therapy, rather than just guessing what's working and what's not working, we can have an absolute prescription on where the patient needs help.

 

So, we're not wasting time trying to fix something that's not broken. At the same time, we cannot waste time. We can get right to work. We can save the patient money and copayments insurance companies and avoid visits to the emergency room. So, these tests give us a 360 degree look at what is causing the patient's imbalance.

 

Okay, so that's nice that you can really fine tune determine what part of the system is not working and then really focus on that to get the patient that treatment that they need. They deserve.

 

Absolutely. And one of the things that happens right now is a patient may not have the vocabulary or the words. So, the patient may say they feel lightheaded or they feel woozy headed or they feel like their feet won't do what they want them to do. And very often when they come to the provider, whether it's a PCP, nurse practitioner, whoever it may be, that practitioner is trying to make sense of these words, but the patient may not be using the words that the practitioner links with a specific problem.

 

So, in less than 70 minutes, we can cut out all the extraneous noise. Get right to the bottom of the problem and then we know how to plan for this patient, how to triage. Do they need medicine? Do they need pharmacological management? Do they need balance retraining? They do. Do they need fall proofing in their home so no one has to learn to live with it?

 

So absolutely. I think it's great that we have this full diagnostic testing to really help the patients get that treatment that they need and that they don't have to have that fear of falling because it can be very scary. And they continue can continue to live their daily activities and do things that they enjoy. So, thank you so much, Dr. Gans, for joining us.

 

If you or someone you know has a fear of falling, please visit us at HearingDoctors.com.

 

If you're in the Washington metropolitan area and you'd like to schedule an appointment with Hearing Doctors, click the link in the description or visit HearingDoctors.com




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