Skip to Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital Primary Content

Skip to Navigation

Spinning around

March 13, 2017

Dr David Szmulewicz and Brooke Paisley demonstrate the Epley Omniax Positioning System.

In 2012, high school teacher Andrew woke up one morning and felt like the room was spinning.

"I had an awful headache and extreme dizziness. I got up to go to the bathroom and fell over on the way. I thought the symptoms would go away, but the next morning I couldn’t even get out of bed."

Andrew’s symptoms didn’t go away and he spent the next two weeks sleeping on a chair, unable to either lie down or stand up, drive or go to work, and needed someone home to look after him.

Over the next few years, Andrew went through a number of tests, treatments and medications to treat the debilitating dizziness. The symptoms would go up and down, but at times he was unable to lie flat for weeks at a time due to the dizziness it caused.

For a period of time the symptoms lessened, and he returned to work and normal life.

But in 2014, the dizziness returned. While visiting the Eye and Ear’s Outpatient Clinic, Andrew read the story of another patient who had been successfully treated for vertigo on the hospital’s Epley Omniax Positioning System in the Gandel Philanthropy Balance Disorders Diagnostics area. This led him to make an appointment at the hospital’s Balance Disorders and Ataxia Service (BDAS).

Here, he was treated by the Head of the BDAS, Dr David Szmulewicz, and the team.

Andrew was treated in the hospital’s Omniax machine, one of only 34 in the world and generously funded by Gandel Philanthropy. The machine increases diagnostic accuracy and treatment for sufferers of a number of balance disorders, meaning shorter hospital stays and a more rapid return to daily activities and productivity for the patient.

Patients are seated in the device, secured with a harness and slowly moved to various positions. Infrared video goggles record the eye movements and specialist clinicians analyse the results to help diagnose and treat the dizziness.

Dr Szmulewicz says balance disorders are widespread and debilitating disorders and that this treatment can help people return to their normal lives.

Andrew says at first he was apprehensive getting in the machine.

"I felt like an astronaut and was a bit scared. But all the audiologists and staff made me feel safe."

"The clinicians were all excellent. They saved me. I know they must have so many patients but they always took time to look after me with care and to respond to all my questions. My wife and I are so grateful for their care."

After two sessions on the machine, along with some medication, Andrew said the symptoms stopped.

In 2016, the symptoms returned and Andrew came back to BDAS for further treatment. Andrew said he is once again feeling good and his symptoms have gone.

"I can’t thank the clinicians enough for their excellent kindness, sincere caring
and attention."

Andrew said he had only one wish — "to return to normal life" — and he is now doing exactly that.

He is comfortably driving again, preparing to return to work and once again living his normal life.