Dancing Her Way Back to Balance: Dance Instructor Helps Choreograph "Balance Awareness Week" and Virtual Conference Presented by the Vestibular Disorders Association

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Competitive dancer Laura Cala of Perth, Australia, finds her feet again as she uncovers the mystery of her vestibular migraine diagnosis during Balance Awareness Week, Sept. 13-19, 2020, presented by the Vestibular Disorders Association

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Laura Cala mysteriously lost her balance six years ago. She has been searching for answers ever since.

“One day I woke up with a spinning sensation that was nothing like I’d ever felt before, like I was walking on marshmallows. I was tired and nauseated. I felt awful,” Laura remembers.

As a professional dance instructor and competitive dancer who has performed around the world, Laura was accustomed to feeling completely in control on her own two feet -- until that fateful day when she suddenly found herself afraid to even stand up.

Doctors said at first that she might have a virus and assured her it would go away, but it didn’t. Another doctor told her she had an anxiety disorder, but deep down she knew it was more than that.

“I was quite bubbly before I started struggling with balance. I liked going out. I’d been teaching dance for a long time. I had my career going,” says Laura, an accountant who co-owns two businesses in her hometown of Perth, Australia.

For three years Laura continued to work full time, but she found herself really struggling.

“I was always cancelling plans,” she says. “I felt like I was always going to fall over. I got tired often and felt nauseated. I stopped driving… I look back on it now and wonder how on earth did I do three years of that before getting a firm diagnosis?”

Laura was finally diagnosed with vestibular migraine, one of the most debilitating chronic disorders. It is almost as prevalent as hypertension (high blood pressure) and is more common than asthma and diabetes mellitus. More importantly, migraine strikes people during what are expected to be their most productive years: between ages 20 and 40 for most women, with a slightly higher age range for men. Despite better diagnostic capabilities, it is estimated that approximately 50% of people who suffer from migraine go undiagnosed or mismanaged.

During the three years she searched for a diagnosis, Laura found the information she was looking for when she discovered VeDA, the Vestibular Disorders Association, based in Portland, Oregon.

“VeDA connected me with other people who had what I had,” Laura says. “VeDA gave me the confidence to embrace my vestibular journey. I know now that I’m not weak, just different, and that is okay! Vestibular migraine is me, and I love me.”

Today, Laura is the official ambassador of VeDA’s 2020 Balance Awareness Week, taking place September 13-19, 2020. The annual awareness campaign seeks to broaden understanding of balance-related vestibular conditions.

As lead ambassador, Laura helped choreograph VeDA’s first annual Virtual Vestibular Conference, taking place Sept. 14-18, 2020, in conjunction with Balance Awareness Week. She will moderating panels of vestibular patients discussing the Psychological Impacts of Vestibular Disorders, Persistent Postural Perceptual Dizziness (PPPD), Vestibular Rehabilitation Therapy, and Integrating Complementary & Alternative Treatments in Recovery.

“I’m excited about sharing the information VeDA has put together for this year’s Balance Awareness Week and the first Virtual Vestibular Conference. I encourage all Vesties to ‘Uncover the Vestibular Mystery,’ the theme of this year’s awareness campaign. Ask yourself, ‘Why am I dizzy? Why do I get headaches? What are my triggers?’ VeDA is here to help you uncover the mystery of your symptoms and find solutions.”

ABOUT VeDA: VeDA is the leading international organization for information about vestibular (inner ear and brain) disorders. VeDA supports people with vestibular disorders by connecting them to health care specialists and support networks, and promotes awareness for vestibular disorders.

Website: https://vestibular.org
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/vestibulardisorders
Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/vestibularveda
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/vestibularveda

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Peter Szymczak, Communications Manager

Louise Geib, President
@vestibularveda
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