Unique Medical Chair In Vegas Helps Prevent Falls - myfoxcarolinas.com

Unique Medical Chair In Vegas Helps Prevent Falls

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It's an interesting looking contraption that seems more like an amusement park ride than a tool for physical therapy. A therapy balance chair used to treat patients of all ages suffering from vertigo and other vestibular disorders, and there are only 14 of these chairs in the United States...

Two of which are in southern Nevada at Physical Therapy & Balance Centers

FOX's Elizabeth Watts takes a closer look.

"It came on very sudden, very sudden and it was so severe I couldn't function- I was feeling awful, awful. The world was spinning around me and it was very scary," said Katarina Blackwell, who suffers from Vertigo.

Katarina Blackwell is a healthy 38 year old mother of two, but she would get terrible vertigo.

"One day, I suddenly woke up in middle of the night, having the sensation I was falling off a cliff," she recalled.

Katarina saw her doctor and found out that she had an inner ear infection and needed physical therapy.

 She walked into Fyzical Therapy and Balance Centers and was eventually strapped into a chair.

The Epley Omniax Chair treats patients suffering from vertigo and other vestibular disorders.

It's designed to use gravity to reposition calcium crystal that may break loose in your inner ear and cause issues for you.

"They get trapped in canals in the ear; when you look up, down or over, pieces of crystal move inside the ear, causing you to feel vertigo, or spinning or unsteadiness," said Brian Werner, the Clinical Director of Fyzical Therapy & Balance Centers.

The chair uses night vision goggles that are connected to a computer. A camera looks through the eye to identify any inner ear issues and finds those crystals that have been knocked loose.

It then flips you and turns you around until those crystals are put in a spot where the body can properly absorb them.

Werner says that there are only 14 of these chairs in the US. Two of them are in Southern Nevada.

Watts got strapped in to see what it's like. It's a little unnerving, but like Katarina says, it's not too bad.

"It's not scary, but it's a little strange because you don't know if you're side to side," Blackwell said.

Werner says there are typically five symptoms behind ear and balance issues: vertigo, spinning, disequilibrium, being light headed, motion sickness.

"We have real problem with balance and dizziness in the United States," said Werner.

Werner says that by age 40, about 35% of the population or 69 million Americans develop inner ear problems.

By age 65, it's the third leading reason behind doctor's visits, and by 75, the second leading visit after lower back pain.

Werner says these balance issues are preventable and a trip to the ER after a fall costs the Medicare system 19,000 dollars on average, and it adds up.

"Every year, an average of 350-400,000 hip fractures occur in the US, we're talking in the 30 to 35 billion dollars a year we're spending in post-fall care when we could have identified these balance issues. We could be saving the Medicare system tremendous dollars."

Werner says doctors send patients of all ages to use this device, the youngest, five years old, the oldest, 107, and, of course, patients like Katarina that are in their 30s and 40s with inner ear infections that can't be treated with time or medication.

"I felt instantly better. That's why it was such a crazy thing, because I went from one extreme to another," Katarina said.

Katarina says she hasn't had any issues after a few spins in the chair and recommends others buckle up and figure out what's really wrong.

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