BELLEFONTE, Pa. (May 31, 2013) – Makenzie Womer, physical therapist at Drayer Physical Therapy Center’s outpatient center in Bellefonte, describes a patient who is being treated for a knee injury.
Lying on his back, the patient gets dizzy, which until now has been attributed to his blood pressure.
But Womer takes a closer look. She employs a maneuver as a test, confirming that he has the most common vestibular disorder, known simply as BPPV.
Within three treatments, Womer has eliminated the disorder – and the patient’s need to treat the dizziness with medication.
“I roll the head in a specific way and fix a mechanical problem within the vestibular system,” Womer said.
It’s that type of expertise that Womer offers patients in the Bellefonte and State College areas. In March, she completed a rigorous vestibular credentialing program at Emory University in Atlanta. The designation – “credentialed-vestibular specialist” – is bestowed by the American Physical Therapy Association.
A State College native, Womer earned a doctoral degree in physical therapy from Slippery Rock University in 2008. During that time, she studied in Australia and treated balance and vestibular patients at the Royal Melbourne Hospital. She also conducted and published research on falls prevention among the elderly at the National Aging Research Institute.
Simply put, the vestibular system – located in the inner ear – governs our sense of where we are in space and our balance.
Besides BPPV, vestibular disorders include vestibular hypofunction, menieres disease, vestibular neuritis, gaze stability difficulties, cervicogenic dizziness, balance deficits post-stroke, and general balance deficits often seen in the elderly.
“Many patients, including the elderly, do not realize that physical therapy can help their dizziness or balance disorders,” Womer said. “They may be told that it’s just because of their age or their medication.
“While those things may play a role in their dizziness, it often can be made better or completely abolished with some simple rehab. Unfortunately it is an area of medicine that is not understood well, so often these patients live with these symptoms unnecessarily.”
Drayer’s Bellefonte center is at 1680 Zion Road and can be reached at 814-355-5660. It is open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays and from 7 a.m. to noon Saturdays.
Based in Hummelstown, Pa., Drayer (www.drayerpt.com) provides rehabilitation services with a physician’s referral. Patients are guaranteed an appointment within 24 hours. Drayer centers work with all insurance types.