I am happy to announce the realization of a dream! I have been traveling to the American University of Beirut Medical Center for several years now. My husband was going to give grand rounds in the Ear, Nose, and Throat (ENT) Department at the hospital a few years back, and I said, “Do you think that they would like to hear from a physical therapist about how to work with patients with vestibular disorders?” When he asked the department, they invited me to speak as well! I talked about vestibular rehabilitation, and how doctors, physical therapists, and audiologists can form the most effective and comprehensive team to treat individuals with inner ear balance problems. The talk was wonderfully well received. Before I knew it, their physical therapy director (who also happened to be the President of the Lebanese Physical Therapy Association), Ms. Claude Maroun, and their ENT physicians began imagining how to bring the first center of its kind to the Middle East. They were committed to making this dream come true. Each time I would return to Beirut, I would meet again with the doctors and therapists, at times just brainstorming, or lecturing, or working with their vestibular therapist in training.
Earlier this year, I got an email from Claude Maroun stating that they were sending a therapist to Florida for 3 weeks of training! Wow! This was huge. Youssef Koaik came in March 2013, attended a course for 1 week, and afterwards spent 2 weeks in training with me at Equinox Physical Therapy and with the team at the Silverstein Institute.
Currently, I am in Turkey at the Politzer Society Meeting. To my great joy, the ENTs from Beirut, (now old friends) are in attendance as well! What a happy reunion! When I saw Dr. George Zaytoun, head of ENT, I couldn’t wait for the update on the vestibular program. He was pleased to inform me that his colleague, Dr. Marc Bassim, has been appointed the medical director of the new Balance Center. For those of you unfamiliar with these two gentlemen, let me fill you in. They have done their training in the USA at two of the finest medical institutions for ENT in the world (Dr. Zaytoun at Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, and Dr. Bassim at the House Clinic). But the biggest news is that the center will be opening in January 2014, and they have spared no expense in providing their patients with the most sophisticated equipment available. For instance, they have a Rotary Chair Test, Posturography Machine, Otometrics Video Head Impulse Test, VNG machine, VEMP machine, and audiogram. All in all, I am estimating a quarter million US Dollars in equipment alone! There are only a few centers worldwide that have this level of sophisticated technology at their fingertips. This, in addition to their highly trained and accomplished MDs, PTs, and audiologists, make them a formidable team in treating disorders of the inner ear.
Can you imagine, that from one talk a few years ago, they have built this center? They are remarkable and inspiring! I know that they will blaze a trail of excellence in the Middle East, and the world at large. I will definitely keep you posted on their developments, as I feel they are the ones to watch! If you live in the Middle East, you now have someplace closer to home to go when you have inner ear vertigo, dizziness, or imbalance problems. Nushkur alla (thank God).
2009 Physical Therapy Department - Beirut. Claude Maroun, Laura Wazen, Youssef Koaik.