A New Spin On Dizziness

Software-driven repositioning chair treats vertigo.

After training in India, Purnachander R. Bikkasani, MD, left for England to pursue his medical career. While in England, he became fascinated by endoscopy, a nonsurgical procedure that uses a long, flexible tube and camera to look inside the body.

Dr. Bikkasani proclaims his balance problems “cured” after treatment at Trinity Hearing & Balance Center.

“With endoscopy, doctors can view the gastrointestinal tract from the top down and the bottom up,” Dr. Bikkasani observes. “And while we’re doing that, we can remove growths, heal ulcers, mend livers and restore the pancreas to better health.

“I was very attracted to that type of work, so when I migrated to the United States in 1981, I decided to specialize in gastroenterology. I practiced in Citrus County for more than 35 years.”

Now retired, Dr. Bikkasani devotes most of his time to the nonprofit organization he founded to make education more accessible to at-risk high school students in the US and India. Awareness USA offers free online academic counseling and skills training to underprivileged students, typically those in low-income ZIP codes, the doctor explains.

“Our program motivates the students and trains and inspires them to do well, so they don’t get stuck in generational poverty,” he says.

A naturally upbeat person, Dr. Bikkasani wrote a book titled Joy of Life and lectures on ways to live a happy and stress-free life. But last summer, he endured some uncomfortable symptoms that dampened even his enthusiasm.

“I couldn’t walk straight,” he remembers. “I reeled to the right or left and occasionally felt dizzy. I’m a golfer, and I had trouble when I leaned forward to either tee the ball up or pick up a ball off the ground. It made me dizzy. Any positional change of my head caused dizziness. It was also somewhat painful.

“My problem had to do with an inner ear imbalance. There are little stones in the inner ear that control the way people walk, so I had an issue at that level. Initially, I was treated by an ear, nose and throat physician, but at my request, he referred me to a balance clinic. That’s how I wound up at Trinity Hearing & Balance Center.”

At Trinity Hearing & Balance Center, Dr. Bikkasani met with Kelly Hansen, AuD, and her colleague, Nikki Goldowski-Richa, AuD. Dr. Hansen and Dr. Goldowski-Richa treat all types of hearing loss, balance disorders and hearing-related conditions, and are committed to providing exceptional patient care.

“Dr. Bikkasani came to us in June,” Dr. Hansen recalls. “He had been diagnosed in the past with benign paroxysmal positional vertigo, or BPPV, which is the most common cause of episodic vertigo, and his symptoms had returned.”

BPPV is caused by small crystals of calcium carbonate, or otoconia, that get into the inner ear’s balance mechanisms. When those particles become loose in the semicircular canals, a false sensation of movement and dizziness is triggered.

To relieve the symptoms, the crystals must be repositioned, Dr. Hansen explains.

Precise Positioning

Dr. Hansen and Dr. Goldowski-Richa use an advanced, software-driven machine called the Epley Omniax System to diagnose and treat dizziness and balance disorders such as BPPV.

Epley Omniax System

This system allows the doctors to pinpoint the location of the particles and develop a detailed plan for repositioning them. Very few centers in the country have this system.

In treating Dr. Bikkasani, Dr. Hansen first used the Epley Omniax System to confirm his diagnosis of BPPV. She then used the equipment to correct the condition through positional placement of his head and body.

“The Epley Omniax System includes a special chair that rotates to put patients in nearly any position,” Dr. Hansen describes. “We then monitor the patient’s eye movements for signs of dizziness. This enables us to determine which positions lead to symptoms and, in the case of BPPV, which ear is affected.

“The chair is computer controlled, so it can put patients in the very precise positions necessary to move the crystals that are loose in the ear canals back where they belong. The chair also allows us to easily put patients in those precise positions without placing strain on their necks or backs. It’s much more comfortable for the patients than being moved around a table, which is how we used to reposition the crystals.”

‘Perfect’ Treatment

“The chair is awesome. It’s the best treatment available for BPPV, and fortunately Trinity Hearing & Balance Center has one,” Dr. Bikkasani states.

“It moves you and turns you gently in different positions. Some people may feel a little dizzy during treatment with the chair, but I didn’t. I enjoyed it. I laughed and giggled while it was happening.”

Dr. Bikkasani was even more giddy after realizing the results from the therapy.

“The treatment was perfect for me. … I don’t feel dizzy anymore.” – Dr. Bikkasani

“The treatment was perfect for me,” he raves. “ My symptoms went completely away. Now, I don’t feel dizzy anymore. I can golf, and I don’t have those feelings I used to have when teeing up the golf ball. And I can walk comfortably – and straight.

“My balance problem is cured, but I could still suffer a relapse of symptoms. If I do, I’ll go back to Trinity Hearing & Balance Center and they’ll repeat the treatment. They’ll get me fixed up and then I’ll be fine again.

“Dr. Hansen and her staff are very professional, courteous and thorough in their work,” Dr. Bikkasani adds. “I received the help I needed from them, and I recommend Trinity Hearing & Balance Center to anybody who has a problem with balance.”

© FHCN article by Patti DiPanfilo. Photo by Jordan Pysz. Epley Omniax photo courtesy of Trinity Hearing & Balance Center. mkb
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    • Trinity Hearing & Balance Center

      Trinity Hearing & Balance Center utilizes state-of-the-art equipment to aid in the diagnosis and treatment of many different types of dizziness and balance disorders. You no longer have to "learn to live" with it. The great news is that diz... Read More

    • Kelly Hansen

      Dr. Kelly Hansen obtained her undergraduate and graduate degrees at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana and her Doctorate of Audiology degree from Arizona School of Health Sciences in Mesa, Arizona.  Throughout her career, Dr. Hans... Read More

    • Nikki Goldowski-Richa, AuD

      Nikki Goldowski-Richa, AuD, earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in speech and hearing in 2011 from Cleveland State University and her Doctorate of Audiology degree from the University of Louisville in 2015. She recently completed her clinica... Read More