A conversation with Dr. Richard Gans, founder of the American Institute of Balance. That’s our topic today on Ask the Hearing Doctors.
Hi, I’m Dr. Ana Anzola with Hearing Doctors, the highest rated audiology practice in the Washington metropolitan area with over 15 hundred five star reviews. Today we have the pleasure of having Dr. Richard Gans here, the founder of the American Institute of Balance.
And we’re having a conversation about maybe your back story. You can share that with our audience today.
Great. Happy to Dr Anzola. You know, I often tell people that my first professor was my mother and I first attended class when I was five years old. My mother had intractable Meniere’s disease, and no one could understand this was back.
You know, in the 1950s, nobody could understand why this otherwise healthy active person couldn’t get out of bed was spinning. People thought she was drunk, vomiting. It was really quite quite awful. And being an only child, I became her caregiver.
And fortunately, though, after about ten years of really being miserable, finally, Meniere’s disease, as it often does, burns itself out. But she really lost ten of the best years of her life from the time she was 30 to 40.
She really was miserable. She was afraid to drive. She was afraid to go out in crowds. She was always afraid. Well, what if people think I’m drunk? What if I’m vomiting and I’m down on the floor? So, when I approached the whole field of neuro diagnostics, audiology, electrophysiology, I really dedicated myself to the fact that nobody should have to live like my mother did. So that’s really been our mission, and we’ve been able to educate thousands of practitioners around the world as to the best science and best nonsurgical management for people with dizziness and vertigo.
So, being that your mom had this disorder, how did you get into the science of comprehensive, balance testing?
Well, that’s a great question. You know, most of what we were doing in this field was really developed by NASA and the Air Force. You know, when the first shuttle astronaut started to come back from the mission’s late seventies early eighties, there were coming back with very, very bad balance.
And NASA of course, didn’t have an unlimited supply of astronauts. So, it really took the work of teams at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio State and a lot of other scientists. I was I was doing my Ph.D. at the Ohio State at that time, and it was just fascinating you between animal research models and then developing vestibular rehabilitation and treatment. So, what was being done in military and space travel wasn’t yet being done in civilian medicine. So, we took it upon ourselves, starting in 1983, was to bring the same science that NASA and the military was using to the public.
So, tell me what’s going on right now at the American Institute of Balance?
Well, we’re very fortunate because we’re celebrating a big anniversary. We founded the institute in 1992. Since that time, we’ve had a global footprint. We’ve done 150 international presentations in 35 countries. We’ve seen well over 160,000 patients, and we’re operating clinics in 31 states.
And we’re so happy to have Hearing Doctors in northern Virginia. The help you’re going to bring to so many people in the northern Virginia, Washington, D.C., area. So, we’re very, very thankful to have great partners like you.
Thank you. Yes, we’re so excited. And it’s just been an incredible partnership, and it’s really going to give us the opportunity to even help a lot more people in the in that are suffering from dizziness or balance issues.
Absolutely. You know, Dr. Anzola, the only other facilities in the entire United States that have your level of comprehensive equipment and testing, and expertise are facilities like Mayo Clinic, Johns Hopkins and NIH. But now patients don’t have to suffer.
Their physicians can refer them quickly, easily. These tests are virtually all covered by Medicare. third party payers so no one, as we say, has to just learn to live with it.
Exactly. And that’s a good point that you make. Tell me a few more other breakthroughs that you have in technology today.
Well, the exciting thing is this. Up until a few years ago, we were limited to basically a 70 year old test. So just imagine you’re. Having heart pains and you go to see a world class cardiologist and you say, Oh doctor, what tests are you going to do?
And she says, Oh. I have a stethoscope, right? You go, What? How what are you going to tell from a stethoscope? Well, today we have rotary chair. We have vestibular evoked myogenic potentials. We have electrocochleography. We have amazing technology. No pins, no needles. No blood draws. We even do these tests on infants as young as four months of age.
That’s fantastic. We’re so excited. Thank you so much for meeting with us today.
Oh, thank you. Dr. Anzola.
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