UAE hospital uses Nasa test to detect root cause of dizziness

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Abu Dhabi - The hospital has set up a ‘balance clinic’ to support people suffering from prolonged, recurrent dizziness

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Published: Wed 18 Aug 2021, 4:42 PM

A Nasa test to assess astronauts’ balance before and after missions, is being used on the ground to support UAE residents suffering from prolonged or recurrent dizziness.

Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi has launched a multidisciplinary Balance Clinic that uses specialised equipment and a test called EquiTest — originally developed for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration — to determine specific causes of dizziness in a patient.

“When patients come to our Balance Clinic, their main problem is that they don’t have an answer to why they’re feeling this way. Some of them have been feeling dizzy or living in fear of dizzy spells for 5, 10 or even 15 years. I make it very clear to our patients that living with dizziness is not OK,” said Dr Mark Bassim, otologist, Balance Clinic.

Symptoms of dizziness include a loss of balance, lightheadedness, spinning sensation and an inability to walk straight, among others. It can be caused by problems in the inner ear, brain, eyes, or neck, and often involves multiple causes.

“Dizziness can affect a person’s quality of life at the most fundamental level. Patients can go from being active and engaged, to feeling as though they can’t face doing anything anymore. With the right care, the improvement we see in patients is truly fantastic, even in those who had given up hope of ever seeing an improvement,” Dr Bassim added.

For patients affected by dizziness, receiving an accurate diagnosis that identifies the root cause of the symptoms is vital to be able to return to their normal lives.

“One of the real challenges with assessing dizziness and its causes is just how fuzzy descriptions can be. The way people experience and quantify dizziness is unique to them. With the right equipment and expertise, however, we can determine precisely how a person is affected and begin to pinpoint the cause of related symptoms. Once we have a firm diagnosis, we can treat the underlying cause and help our patients feel more firmly planted on the ground and confident in their daily life once again.”

The interactive tests available at the clinic measure a patient’s response to movement with computer readings, delivering an objective assessment of both balance and stability that helps doctors determine the root cause of the symptoms and define a comprehensive treatment plan.

Following diagnosis, patients receive an individual treatment plan and are followed up by a multidisciplinary team. Depending on the cause of their dizziness, they may be treated using medication, surgery, or a combination of both. In many cases, the addition of specialised physical therapy called vestibular rehabilitation therapy can significantly accelerate recovery.

The Balance Clinic brings together otologists, audiologists, and specialised physical therapists, with support from neurologists as required.

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