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Champions of Vestibular Medicine

Posted by Cynthia Ryan

The Vestibular Disorders Association (VEDA) announces the annual VEDA Champion of Vestibular Medicine Award initiative to increase awareness of vestibular disorders that affect the inner ear and brain.

2015 award recipients include Susan Whitney, DPT, PhD, Steven Rauch, MD, Anne Hogan, PhD, and Kathryn Schneider, BHScPT, PhD.

“Champions of Vestibular Medicine are medical professionals who have had significant impact on increasing awareness of vestibular disorders,” says Cynthia Ryan, VEDA’s executive director. “Thanks to their leadership we’re seeing new diagnostic tools and treatment protocols that help reduce diagnosis times and increase treatment effectiveness.”

“So many vestibular patients suffer for years before receiving an accurate diagnosis, if they ever get one,” says Sheelah Woodhouse, President of VEDA’s board of directors. “VEDA’s number one goal is to reduce the time it takes to diagnose a vestibular disorder. We want to shine a light on this invisible illness so that vestibular patients don’t feel so alone.”

About Vestibular Disorders

The vestibular system includes the parts of the inner ear and brain that process the sensory information involved with controlling balance and eye movements. If disease or injury damages these processing areas, vestibular disorders can result. Vestibular disorders can also result from or be worsened by genetic or environmental conditions. Many occur for unknown reasons.

One large epidemiological study estimates that as many as 35% of adults aged 40 years or older in the United States—approximately 69 million Americans—have experienced some form of vestibular dysfunction.

MEET VEDA’S CHAMPIONS OF VESTIBULAR MEDICINE

Susan Whitney DPT,PhD, NCS, ATC,FAPTA is a Professor in Physical Therapy with a secondary appointment in Otolaryngology and the Department of Clinical Translational Science Institute at the University of Pittsburgh, in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. Through her research she works to develop new tools to treat persons living with vestibular conditions through the use of virtual reality, a vibrotactile device, and devices that can help record exercise compliance. Dr. Whitney is an energetic and inspirational leader who is well known in her field for teaching and mentoring physical therapists interested in specializing in the field of vestibular rehabilitation therapy (VRT). She has lectured extensively on vestibular rehabilitation both internationally and nationally, and has authored over 101 publications. She has been active in the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) at a local, state and national level, where she has received numerous awards. 

Steven Rauch, MD is the Medical Director at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Balance and Vestibular Center and Vice Chair of Academic Affairs at Longwood, Department of Otolaryngology, Harvard Medical School. In addition to administrative and teaching responsibilities, Dr. Rauch divides his time between clinical care and studying disorders that affect hearing and balance, such as Meniere's disease. He currently chairs a national multicenter clinical trial on sudden deafness supported by the NIH National Institute for Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. “"What drives me is the great opportunities I have at Mass. Eye and Ear, not only to answer clinical questions that ultimately benefit our patients, but to be able to work with a team of outstanding researchers and great resources that facilitate that process," says Dr. Rauch.

Anne Hogan, PhD is an Assistant Professor of Audiology at Pacific University near Portland, Oregon, and a founding member of the leadership team at Pacific University's Ear Clinic, which offers a holistic approach to the diagnosis, treatment and management of vestibular patients through an interdisciplinary team approach. Dr. Hogan researches the effects of blast exposure on the vestibular system, and is working on designing "at home" options for vestibular rehabilitation using game system consoles.

Kathryn Schneider, BHScPT, PhD is a Clinical Specialist in Musculoskeletal Physiotherapy and an Assistant Professor/Clinician Scientist at the University of Calgary, in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. She has trained many Physiotherapists to improve their care of patients with vestibular, concussion and whiplash disorders, and has been working with vestibular patients for close to 20 years. Her research explores the relationship between the cervical spine and the vestibular system with a focus on concussion, and she is a co-author on the International Consensus Statement on Concussion in Sport. One of her recent studies found that when concussion management includes vestibular rehabilitation along with treatment of the cervical spine, athletes are four times more likely to return to sport within eight weeks. The Canadian Association of Sport and Exercise Medicine considered this a top practice-changing article.

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