Balance Awareness Week: ‘Dizziness is not normal’



Some loss of balance as you age is to be expected, but balance issues don’t have to be a fact of life, say the vestibular therapists at the U-M Vestibular Testing Center, part of the Vertigo & Balance Disorders program in the Department of Otolaryngology- Head and Neck Surgery.

Wendy Carender

Wendy Carender, PT, NCS, of the U-M Vertigo & Balance Disorders program.

Sept. 12 through 18 is Balance Awareness Week, and vestibular certified physical therapists Wendy Carender, PT, NCS, and Melissa Grzesiak, PT, DPT recommend people see their doctor if balance or vertigo is getting in the way of their regular life. Many physicians will then refer patients to the physical therapists and audiologists at the Vestibular Testing Center for evaluation and treatment.

“I personally used to go in and see Wendy very often, so much that I suggested they set up an office for me there. I was a regular pest,” said Harold Johnson, 89, who dealt with a variety of balance and vertigo issues as he aged, in addition to a history of Meniere’s disease and a cochlear implant.

Carender educated Johnson in specific exercises to reduce his dizziness and improve his balance and sent him home with a customized home exercise program.  He finds his balance has improved so much that he rarely requires a visit anymore.

“The majority of our patients with dizziness and balance disorders benefit from an individualized home exercise program,” Carender said. “We’re teaching them to move through the dizziness in order to desensitize and decrease symptoms while promoting return to functional activity.”

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Easter brings new life for liver transplant recipient

Photo by Chris Sonnenday, M.D., taken Easter morning.

Photo by Chris Sonnenday, M.D., taken Easter morning.

Easter was already a special day for Nelson and Carole Thulin. The Milford couple was excited to have their three adult children home to spend a meaningful Sunday together, rejoicing in the new life signified by the holiday, and the promise of spring.

This year’s holiday started early, though, with a 1 a.m. phone call: Nelson Thulin, too, would receive the gift of life this year. His new liver was ready, and he needed to head into the hospital for surgery.

“There couldn’t be a better day,” Thulin says. “People were always saying their prayers were with me, and then I spent Easter Sunday in the operating room.”

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From patient to advocate

February 29 is Rare Disease Day

cropped IMG_1244His wife Nancy couldn’t take the snoring anymore, so after a couple of months Dan Nagridge went to ask his doctor if he had sleep apnea.

He ended up at the University of Michigan Health System, with a surprise diagnosis: cancer at the base of his skull. It was chordoma, a slow-growing cancer that’s extremely rare, pushing on the back of Dan’s throat that made him start snoring.

“The cancer starts from tissue that was left when he was forming as an embryo in his mother’s womb,” says Erin McKean, M.D., MBA, a U-M otolaryngologist, or ear, nose and throat doctor, and Dan’s surgeon. “We don’t know why people develop this cancer, so we’re very invested in advancing the research.” Continue reading

Teen’s reaction after heart transplant goes viral

Trevor Sullivan’s mother hadn’t even meant to videotape her son’s emotional awakening after heart transplant surgery. She’d intended to take a photo with her mobile phone, but accidentally set it on video, instead.

Trevor, 15, said it was OK. He wanted to tell friends and family following his medical journey on Facebook that he felt “amazing” after 10 months on a transplant waiting list. “I’m so happy,” he said tearfully. “I’ve been waiting so long…I can breathe again. I can talk.”

The Southfield, Mich., family posted the touching video online, and it was shared on the Facebook site for Gift of Life Michigan. The video went viral from there, attracting upwards of 1.7 million views and international media coverage including nods from CNN, the Today show and the Washington Post.

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Three ways to fight the flu

Flu season is starting to hit hard, but it's not too late to prevent infection

2016fluseasonEven as this year’s influenza (flu) virus reaches its peak, there are still ways to lessen your chances of getting sick and — if you’ve already got it — reduces chances of spreading the flu to someone else. Here are three easy tips for fighting the flu:

Get a flu shot

It’s not too late to get a flu shot. Scheduling an annual flu vaccine is the best way to protect yourself from the flu and prevent spreading the infection. The CDC suggests everyone six months of age and older get a flu vaccine every year.

Protect yourself and prevent the spread of flu

Wash your hands regularly with soap and water, avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth, and cover your mouth for coughs and sneezes. It’s also wise to avoid contact with sick people, as well as avoid sharing food, drink or utensils with anyone.

If you’re sick, avoid close contact with people

If you become sick with a flu-like illness, limit contact with others as much as possible to keep from infecting them. The CDC recommends staying home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone, except to get medical care or other necessities. Your fever should be gone without the use of a fever-reducing medicine, such as Tylenol.

Children younger than 2 years old, adults 65 and older and people with certain medical conditions can be at higher risk for complications due to flu and should seek medical attention. Prompt treatment can mean the difference between having a mild illness versus something more serious.

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