Dr. Whitman is a neurologist at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Balance and Vestibular Center. He specializes in the medical aspects of balance, including functions of the ear and brain. When the balance system isn’t working perfectly, the term dizziness is used as a catch all for a variety of sensations such as vertigo and lightheadedness, as well as many forms of abnormal balance.
Dizziness and balance disorders account for several million clinic visits per year in the U.S. Many of these relate to vestibular disorders. Vestibular, in a nutshell, means having to do with the inner ear balance system, and its connections. These include but are not limited to the vestibular nerve and the brain.
Almost every person will either be affected personally by disorders related to balance, or will have a loved one who is. Yet there isn’t enough information out there. It’s been estimated in the U.S., there are less than 50 fellowship-trained, practicing neurologists who focus on vestibular disorders. In his practice, Dr. Whitman sees up to 200 dizziness related visits per month. He wishes he could see more!
Because there is only so much time; and because there are so many people with questions about dizziness, he has coauthored a book to outline some of the advice he and his colleagues provide to patients, along with background on the vestibular system, stories about vestibular research, and explanations of why dizziness occurs. Mass. Eye and Ear patients please note: Because we want to ensure Dr. Whitman’s own patients have access to the book, once it comes out, copies will be available on reserve at the Braintree MA public library.
Dr. Whitman has a special interest in how visual and physical motion seem to induce reverberating unwanted sensations, and how to treat these. In particular, he has been seeing increasing numbers of people with mal de debarquement syndrome (MdDS). Dr. Whitman is the first physician at Mass. Eye and Ear, and as far as we can tell, the second in the world to incorporate vestibulo-ocular reflex (VOR) readaptation into his practice for treatment of MdDS, which is a troublesome disorder that can be triggered by motion, such as that of a cruise, or other types of motion. VOR readaptation methods were developed at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, and there is evidence that they are effective, especially for people who have classic MdDS that was triggered by a motion exposure. We have started to treat some carefully selected patients with MdDS who are deemed to be excellent candidates using procedures based on those developed at Mt. Sinai.
The chapter on “Anatomy and Physiology of the Vestibular System” that he coauthored in 2015 was published in a book aimed at advanced ear surgery trainees, A book review in one of the medical journals called the book, “a very useful reference guide.” For those who want to dive into the anatomy and physiology, the chapter is in Google Books at http://ow.ly/rHsj304ltvy.
A chapter on “Dizziness” that he coauthored will be published within several months in a well-known, best-selling Neurology handbook. He has been a speaker at several Harvard affiliated medical institutions and around the country.