What is Vestibular Audiology?
Vestibular audiology is a specialized branch of audiology that focuses on assessing and managing disorders related to the inner ear’s vestibular system. Untreated balance disorders can lead to reduced mobility, decreased independence, and an overall decline in quality of life. Our team of vestibular audiologists are well-equipped to assess, diagnose, and develop personalized treatment plans to address these symptoms effectively.
Common Symptoms of Balance Disorders:
Vertigo: This sensation of spinning, even when you are not moving, is one of the most common symptoms of a vestibular disorder. Vertigo can lead to a feeling of instability and a fear of falling.
Dizziness: Feeling lightheaded, off-balance, or woozy is another common symptom. Dizziness can disrupt daily activities, impact work, and overall well-being.
Imbalance and Unsteadiness: Individuals with balance disorders often experience difficulty walking straight, standing upright, or find themselves veering in particular directions when walking. This can lead to an increased risk of falls.
Nausea and Vomiting: Some vestibular disorders may cause feelings of nausea and even vomiting, especially during episodes of vertigo.
Visual Disturbance: Blurred vision, sensitivity to light, and trouble focusing can accompany balance disorders and affect visual stability.
Hearing Changes: Some vestibular disorders may be linked to changes in hearing, tinnitus (ringing in ears), and/or sensations of fullness in the ears.
Adult Comprehensive Vestibular Evaluations (ages 12+): Our team utilizes state-of-the-art equipment to conduct thorough assessments of the vestibular system allowing for accurate diagnosis and personalized treatment plans.
Pediatric Comprehensive Vestibular Evaluations (ages 4-12): Pediatric patients experience unique symptoms of dizziness and imbalance. Our team provides a personalized assessment for patients aged 7-12 years in order to determine origin of dizziness and direct future implications of dizziness. We are also equipped to provide condensed evaluations for ages 4-6 to help direct necessary interventions.
Concussion Evaluations: Our team evaluates patients who are experiencing dizziness, balance disturbances and visual symptoms following a head injury. A comprehensive vestibular evaluation by an audiologist is known to reduce recovery time post-concussion.
Treatment Plans, Education and Counseling: Our team provides extensive education about vestibular disorders and their management, empowering patients to better understand their condition and make informed decisions.
What To Expect During Your Appointment:
Step 1: Comprehensive Patient History
Before the evaluation begins, our audiologists provide questionnaires on the impact of your dizziness on your overall function, review your medical history, and discuss your symptoms with you. This comprehensive patient history helps us understand your unique situation and allows us to focus on areas that require special attention.
You may download, print and bring these forms with you to save time.
Step 2: Vestibular Evaluation
Our specialized vestibular evaluation is designed to determine the source or sources of your balance and dizziness issues. Using state-of-the-art technology and advanced methods of testing, we will assess the function of your inner ear’s balance system and gather essential data about your balance, eye movements, and other related functions. Examples of testing that may be performed are included below:
Videonystagmography (VNG): This test allows us to distinguish peripheral (ear) vs. central (brain) causes of dizziness. Patients wear goggles with a camera inside that measures eye movements. The audiologist will measure your eye movements during different head and body positions to identify possible vestibular system damage.
Vestibular Evoked Myogenic Potentials (VEMP): This test is used to determine whether certain vestibular organs and nerves are functioning normally. Adhesive electrodes are placed on the head and neck while the audiologist measures neural responses to particular eye and neck movements.
Video Head Impulse Test (vHIT): This test measures a reflex called the vestibular-ocular reflex, which tells us how well your eyes and inner ear work together. We use this information to determine the origin of your dizziness, track recovery of your system, and establish an appropriate treatment plan.
Modified Clinical Test of Sensory Interaction in Balance: This standing balance test evaluates how well your vision, inner ear, and sense of touch work together. The results of this testing allows us to determine your balance ability and fall risk.
Preparing for Testing:
Because our testing requires wearing video goggles throughout the appointment, please refrain from wearing face and neck makeups or lotions.
Please see pre-appointment information regarding medication use prior to testing.
Step 3: Personalized Diagnosis and Treatment Plan
When the evaluation is complete, our team will analyze the results and explain the findings in a clear and understandable manner. Based on the diagnosis, we may suggest various therapies, exercises, or procedures to help improve balance and reduce your dizziness. If your problem does not fall within our scope of treatment, we will use our large referral network to get you access to the help you need.
Meet Our Team
Our dedicated team of audiologists are passionate about helping patients with dizziness and balance disorders and improve their quality of life. We pride ourselves in providing compassionate care and individualized treatment plans to meet each patient’s unique needs.
Kaman Carranza, AuD
Dr. Kaman Carranza is a vestibular audiologist who works with patients experiencing dizziness and balance disorders. She earned her doctorate from the University of Kansas Medical Center and completed specialized fellowship training at Henry Ford Health System in Detroit, MI focused on the diagnosis and management of vestibular disorders. She is active in the field of audiology and is involved in current research focused on the vestibular system. She is a Fellow of the American Academy of Audiology and holds her Certificate of Clinical Competence in Audiology through the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.
Liz Fuemmeler, AuD
Dr. Liz Fuemmeler is a vestibular audiologist and Clinical Product Manager with Interacoustics. She graduated with her doctorate from Purdue University and received specialty training in vestibular and balance disorders at Boys Town National Research Hospital and the Mayo Clinic. While at Mayo Clinic, she trained in a concussion evaluation and rehabilitation program, which focused on utilizing vestibular testing to identify the presence and extent of issues following a concussion. Utilizing this training, she established a concussion program at a private practice in Kansas City, MO and participated in interdisciplinary evaluations for the Concussion Management Center at the University of Kansas Medical Center. She is actively involved in vestibular and concussion research and regularly lectures for local, national, and international conferences. Outside of her role with Interacoustics, she sees dizzy patients weekly at Professional Hearing Center in Kansas City, MO. She also co-hosts a monthly podcast for professionals called "A Dose of Dizzy '' that reviews current vestibular protocols and research. She also is the president of the Missouri Academy of Audiology and volunteers with the American Academy of Audiology as an advisor to the Student Academy.
To schedule an appointment or learn more about our vestibular audiology services, please do not hesitate to contact us:
Location: 3100 Broadway Suite 509, Kansas City, MO 64111
Don’t let balance and dizziness issues hold you back from enjoying life to the fullest. Let us help you find your balance again.