Support offered for people with dizziness or balance disorders

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OVERLAND PARK, Kan. -- Imagine being dizzy all of the time, or sometimes and not knowing when it will hit. Fear, frustration and isolation come with balance or vestibular disorders. Now, in the Kansas City metro, there's support for people living with the disorders.

"You want to watch my back?" Susan Tucker, a physical therapist, asked Susan Thomas as Thomas walked down a hallway.

Watching someone's back can help Thomas.

"It's just like everything is rushing past me, closing in on me," she said.

Thomas' dizziness has been constant for almost seven years. No specific cause or cure for her vestibular disorder has been found. She had to quit work and driving. Thomas says it can be frightening and frustrating. It's hard for others to understand.

"They see you as normal. Sometimes they see you as drunk and you're not drunk," said Thomas.

Sondra Atherly knows the feeling. Her vertigo comes and goes. Certain movements of her head trigger it.

"It's sort of like being in a fun house, but when you can't turn it off, it's not any fun," said Atherly.

Tucker, a physical therapist in Overland Park, says exercises can help many people compensate and cope. But she knew patients had another need.

"I wanted people to be not so alone in dealing with this," she said.

So she started a support group through the Vestibular Disorders Association at vestibular.org

The group is bringing together people who really understand.

"I deal with each day as it comes," Thomas said.

Having the support group may help Thomas, Atherly and others find some balance in their lives.

The support group meets the third Saturday of the month at 1:30 at the Johnson County Library, 9875 W. 87th in Overland Park. For more, contact Susan Tucker at susantucker@kc.rr.com or 913-825-9827.

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