The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) estimates that 40% of the US population will experience some form of dizziness or balance difficulty over their lifetime.
Investigating and treating dizziness is one of the many services of the VA Audiology team, which improves Veterans’ quality of life and helps them return to their daily activities.
Each May, Better Hearing & Speech Month (BHSM) provides an opportunity to raise awareness about communication disorders and VA’s role in life-altering services and programs. VA, alongside other partners in the community, is celebrating the theme “Building Connections.”
Vestibular rehabilitation therapy using VA Video Connect
Florida Veteran Robert had seen an audiologist for episodes of dizziness and a neurologist for migraines. He experienced daily dizziness episodes, which he described as a “drunken, spinning” sensation. He also experienced nausea and imbalance following a Traumatic Brain Injury in 2012.
Robert’s Miami VA audiology team quickly shifted to virtual care for vestibular rehabilitation therapy (VRT) using VA Video Connect (VVC). Video Connect allowed him and others to continue their care without leaving their homes.
At first, he was reluctant. “I felt thrilled at the prospect at the time, but I was also curious as to its potential effectiveness versus in-person treatment,” he said. “Thankfully, both concerns were addressed most positively, the travel time and distance as well as effectiveness success in treatment.”
Much needed and appreciated treatment
Robert attended weekly/bi-weekly virtual visits between October 2020 and March 2021.
“During this period of the COVID-19 pandemic, if not for video connect therapy, my malaise may have continued without treatment,” he added. “Video Connect has allowed for much-needed and appreciated treatment while safeguarding my life and potential exposure to the COVID19 virus.”
Robert shared that his healthcare provider experience was professional, patient and accommodating, finding scheduling to be manageable and much less stressful as he could coordinate directly with the provider in the event of a need for rescheduling.
“Now, I’m only two miles away.”
Reactions have been overwhelmingly positive. At the Lovell Federal Health Care Center in Chicago, medical staff use telehealth to evaluate dizzy patients. Patients are from the parent medical center and five community-based outpatient centers in the immediate area. The locations identify patients closer to home and determine if advanced testing is needed.
One Veteran remarked that “it was swift and easy.” Another expressed appreciation for the virtual care opportunity, saying “It’s at least three hours for me to get up to the main facility for dizziness issues. Now, I am only two miles away from the closest accommodating clinic.”
Robert’s story and those at other facilities like Lovell are the reason we are committed to building connections on all fronts of VA care. VA Audiology is excited to be a part of the growing virtual care opportunities and innovations in virtual vestibular evaluation and treatment allowing us to help Veterans return to daily activities safely.
Learn more about the various telephone and telehealth options used to address VHA audiology patient needs from a distance by visiting VA’s Audiology web page.
- VA Video Connect Instructions for Patients (a video that provides instructions on how to use the VA Telehealth system).
- Enterprise Remote Tuning of Hearing Instruments (ERTHI).
- VA Cochlear Implant Centers.
- Vendor Resources to assist patients with a hearing aid and accessory maintenance.
Heather Kamath, Krystal Vera and Lauren Racoosin are audiologists from VA Audiology & Speech. Randy McCraken is a communications specialist with Rehabilitation and Prosthetic Services.