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Health system offers specialized therapy for balance disorders
Melanie Schroeter, DPT

The University of Kansas Health System Great Bend has added physical therapy expertise in helping people with dizziness, balance disorders and vertigo.

Physical therapist Melanie Schroeter, DPT, located at St. Rose Medical Pavilion, recently earned certification in vestibular rehabilitation and concussion from the American Institute of Balance. The institute is one of the country’s largest multispecialty centers for balance concerns.

“Many factors can cause dizziness,” Schroeter said. “I learned how to appropriately test for these factors and treat them. In addition, I learned how to treat the various disorders causing vertigo.”

One reason Schroeter chose to pursue this education is because benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) is the No. 1 cause of dizziness in patients over 60.

BPPV results when a person changes the position of their head, looks upward or rolls over in bed. While the vertigo is short-lived, it can cause a person to feel unbalanced all the time.

“Some people feel as if the world around them ‘bounces’ when they walk quickly,” Schroeter said. “Or they may get dizzy if they turn their head or body too quickly. Some have difficulty walking on uneven surfaces or in the dark, or when they close their eyes in the shower.”

Some people also suffer from oscillopsia, blurred vision that can occur with or without head movement. Blurred vision can cause problems with daily activities such as reading signs while walking and grocery shopping.

Falling because of a balance disorder can cause concussion in many instances. In addition, balance-related falls are the leading cause of accidental death in people over 65.

“When people fall, they often have a fear of falling in the future,” Schroeter said. “Restoring balance with therapy can alleviate this fear as they become more confident. People do not have to wait until they fall to seek therapy.”

Schroeter also treats cervical dizziness with neck pain from possible whiplash. “This can result in being unsteady and light-headed, with a feeling of being clumsy and dizzy upon moving your head and neck,” she said.

Schroeter, who has a doctorate in physical therapy, stressed that it’s important to receive therapy that is based on research instead of getting advice on the internet.

“The balance system is complex,” she said. “And the head must be in a very specific position during therapy. This is very difficult to treat appropriately on your own.”

To schedule an appointment, call 620-786-6515.