Vestibular Clinic Provides Needed Services to Mid-South

by Corey Fawcett

For the past two and a half years, MSHC has been operating the only vestibular clinic of its kind in Memphis.

Dr. Eileen Smith, CSD Clinical Assistant Professor in audiology and director of the Vestibular and Balance clinic, honed her expertise in vestibular disorders while she worked as the manager of the Hearing and Balance Center at Methodist University Hospital, which has since closed. She joined the University of Memphis in 2013 and didn't wait long to put her plan for the vestibular clinic into action.

Vestibular chair"What distinguishes us from other practices that can do some of this testing is the fact that we have a rotational chair," Smith said. "That allows us to further diagnose disorders."

As the clinic's reputation continues to grow, more and more people are seeking its services. CSD alum Dr. Matthew Hollis, who was once a student of Dr. Smith's, recently joined the clinic as a full-time audiologist, allowing the clinic to service a larger caseload.

"The waitlist has dramatically improved since then," Smith said.

Hollis and Smith aren't the only ones working in the clinic. Audiology graduate students may join them during their second year of school, after they've had the appropriate coursework.

"[The vestibular clinic] gives them some experience in more advanced testing and exposure to disorders they might not otherwise see," Smith said. "I want them to take away the ability to really thoroughly analyze the data and critically think through a diagnosis."

Smith also helps students refine their "softer" therapy skills, which are of utmost importance during the three-hour diagnostic sessions.

"The testing can be very uncomfortable," Smith said. "The biggest thing you can do is establish rapport."

In the future, Smith would like to draw academic faculty whose research interests are in vestibular disorders to the clinic. She would also like to have the ability to do pediatric testing. But until then, she, Hollis, and the audiology students will have their hands full.

"We're attracting more and more referrals," she said.