Are you a health care provider who is interested in learning more about vestibular therapy? Or maybe, you have started treating patients with dizziness and balance problems, but would like to grow your vestibular therapy practice? If you can relate to either of these that is awesome as there is such a need in this field.
In this blog we will share 3 essential components that have been the backbone for increasing our vestibular therapy practice and seeing well over 150 new vestibular referrals a month. Using these components we have actually scaled our clinic to where we see more vestibular therapy patients than all MSK patients combined, with our number of new vestibular referrals continuing to increase.
So what are the components for increasing a vestibular therapy practice? They are:
With trying to deal with any condition knowledge is key. We would, therefore, highly recommend taking an introductory course first to develop a framework to work from.
After building that framework, and if this is still an area of interest for you, there are many options to take a deeper dive whether it be in-person or online.
For an introductory course we would recommend our North 49 Introduction to Vestibular Therapy Hybrid Course or at least our Understanding Dizziness 101 four hour online course. From there there are other courses that North 49 offers that can be seen on our webpage, with more to come. VEDA also has an extensive list of in-person and online vestibular therapy courses.
You can also see our recommended courses (courses we have taken ourselves throughout North America and online) and test your base knowledge of vestibular therapy by taking the Dizziness Quiz (10 questions).
After taking an introductory course and seeing patients for a period of time we would then recommend that you take the Vestibular Rehabilitation: A Competency-Based Course put on by the Duke University School of Medicine and hosted at Emory University in Atlanta and from time to time in Salt Lake City. There is nothing better than not only being taught by the best in the field of vestibular therapy, but being tested by the best.
If you are looking for some FREE education to supplement the courses you have taken here are 7 of our favourite FREE resources:
Bottom line, with vestibular therapy the learning never stops, taking a weekend course is a great start, but it does not end there. You really have to be a life learner.
Aside from arming yourself with education, which is your biggest tool, here are 4 other tools that we have found helpful:
Unless you provide online therapy this is a must have in your clinic. In North America these can be purchased from companies like Interacoustics and Vestibular First. At North 49 we have googles from both companies. The Vestibular First goggles have a much better price point and therefore are our recommendation unless you actually need to measure the amount of nystagmus.
Click HERE to see our review of the Vestibular First goggles.
Metronomes and Snellen eye charts are used for testing gaze stability by comparing static and dynamic visual acuity. To be honest we just use a metronome that we had for our kids when they took piano lessons, but you can also download metronome apps. Snellen eye charts can also be downloaded off of the web or purchased from your local medical supplier.
To assess dynamic balance you will need at least a 5 meter distance to walk (3m plus some wiggle room) to perform tests such as the TUG (Timed Up and Go). 30ft is even better, then you can perform tests like the Dynamic Gait Index.
We have found that vestibular patients are different than our typical outpatient MSK patient as the they want to be seen right away. Two things that have helped us make this happen are online booking and openings in the schedule. Being able to book an appointment outside of clinic hours provides better service than having to wait until opening time the next business day to book an appointment. Also, having a patient seen at the clinic within 3 business days also provides great service. Some of us have worked in clinics where patients had to wait two weeks to be seen, which is not ideal with this patient population.
As you can see, aside from infrared goggles and education, the start up and ongoing costs are minimal. Then if you look at the return on investment, how much would an additional 10 new intakes a month, with their follow-up, affect your clinic? How about 50, 100, or even 150 new intakes? For us it has definitely been worth it.
Now we can have all the tools in place, but that does not guarantee patients will come. They need to know about our services. Now some may start to feel uncomfortable with this as they do not want to come across as “salesy”, but really if we have a solution to a problem should we not tell people about it? Being passive with our marketing and hoping for the best does not help those who need our care.
With marketing you also have to realize that it is an ongoing thing. A yearly mail out or newsletter ad will not help you or your clinic maximize its reach to those you can serve. Marketing requires strategy, creativity, and time.
For a summary of what has worked for us, feel free to refer to our 3 part series on marketing:
There is so much potential to make an impact and serve those dealing with dizziness & balance related issues.
To grow your vestibular therapy practice, we really hope that by using these strategies you will have better results in a shorter period of time than it did for us.