Atlanta Youth Teaches Community About Finding Balance

Sep 04, 2013, 07:45 ET from VEDA

Misdiagnosed at age 11, he is a local voice for those suffering from balance and dizziness disorders and advocate for finding the right help

ATLANTA, Sept. 4, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- At Morgan Falls Overlook Park in Sandy Springs, GA on Saturday, September 21st at 9am will be a public event for national Balance Awareness Week by VEDA.

"We can't thank Michael and his family enough for their willingness to share his story and bring hope to those searching for answers through a sea of misunderstanding about dizziness, balance and other vestibular disorders," said Tony Staser, VEDA's Development Director.

When Michael began to walk only on the edges of his feet after suffering from asthma, a cold, and then pneumonia in November 2011, his pediatrician sent him to an ear, nose, and throat doctor.  The doctors thought it was just a virus.  By December 12, 2011, he was unable to attend school because his teachers were concerned he couldn't safely navigate the stairs to his classroom.  On New Year's Eve, Michael's condition was so severe that he was unable to walk across a room without help.  After more tests – including a spinal tap – and a second medical opinion, Michael was told he had "conversion disorder" - a psychiatric disorder. 

In reality, he was suffering from vertigo associated with an inflammation of the inner ear called vestibular neuritis, and, after six months of vestibular rehabilitation, he was clear of his symptoms.  When another child at his school came down with a virus, and concerns were raised about an outbreak that may cause the effects Michael had suffered, he and his family took time to speak to the parents at Michael's school to educate them. Today, he and his family are committed to educating and advocating for those who have vestibular disorders.

"I'm excited to partner with VEDA in the Atlanta community to host this special event," said Gaye Cronin, pediatric vestibular rehabilitation therapist.  "We invite everyone to learn from those with these disorders and provide resources for people who may be searching for answers.  We're especially excited that Atlanta's own Dr. Susan Herdman of Emory University's Department of Otolaryngology is this year's Honorary Chair for Balance Awareness Week."

The goal of Balance Awareness Week is to "Defeat Dizziness" by helping people recognize the symptoms of a vestibular disorder, and urging them to seek help from a professional vestibular specialist.  VEDA also encourages friends, family and coworkers of those suffering from a vestibular disorder to learn more about how balance dysfunction can impact their loved one's ability to perform day-to-day activities.  Approximately 69 million Americans have experience some form of vestibular dysfunction.