Strong, vibrant and active, Joan Strand knew something was amiss that December day in 2022.
“I woke up with vertigo and made an appointment with my primary-care physician,’’ said the upbeat, 71-year-old Strand, who walks regularly, practices tai chi and rides a tandem bicycle with her husband as an exercise option.
“She diagnosed me with BPPV, Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo,’’ Strand added. “By the time I saw her I was feeling better, but she directed me to go to physical therapy. I had been to Rock Valley (Physical Therapy) before, for an earlier injury, and was pleased with the therapist I worked with and the progress I made.’’
So Strand called on those she trusted, reaching out to Rock Valley Physical Therapy. She quickly found herself under the care of Logan Albaugh, PT, DPT, OCS, CEAS I, at Rock Valley’s Polk City, Iowa, location.
Albaugh knew of Strand, having witnessed her rehabilitation with Rock Valley Physical Therapy from an earlier incident.
“Joan had a slip-and-fall in June of 2022, which resulted in a right tibial fracture,’’ said Albaugh, who earned his undergraduate degree from Iowa State University and his Doctorate in Physical Therapy from Des Moines University. “She was required to be non-weight bearing and was referred for physical therapy to improve right-knee mobility, strength, balance, and return to prior level of function. She saw another clinician, Seth Bonifas, for four weeks to rehabilitate her knee. After she was discharged, she began to attend Polk City’s (clinic) balance class to improve her dynamic balance and reduce her risk of falling.’’
When she called on Albaugh for her vertigo issue, Strand knew she was getting a prepared, dedicated and compassionate therapist ready to guide her back to normal activities.
“Joan presented in December (of 2022) after graduating from our balance and fall prevention class with a case of severe vertigo,’’ Albaugh said. “She was also just getting over the flu. I had concerns she may be experiencing acute vertigo, either vestibular neuritis or BPPV. After the evaluation, I found that she in fact did have positive special testing for positional vertigo and I treated her with a repositioning technique. I made sure to give her exercises to complete if the symptoms were to come back and advised her regarding what successful treatment looked like vs. unsuccessful treatment. She was asymptomatic on her next visit.’’
In addition to her work in-clinic with Albaugh, Strand says staying true to prescribed – and beneficial – exercises at home would be a key to her success.
“At home, Logan wanted me to practice walking heel-to-toe while turning my head side-to-side, and to also walk heel-to-toe while looking at an object in front of me while turning my head but keeping my gaze on the object,’’ Strand said. “I have also worked on some balance exercises while standing on one foot.’’
Strand says that Albaugh’s knowledge, his dedication, enthusiasm and sincere desire to better her life, made it easy for her to progress.
“Logan is calm, patient, a good listener, very knowledgeable, and thorough in his assessments,’’ Strand said. “Even though my symptoms had subsided, he still scheduled a couple of sessions to make sure I was doing OK. He also showed me the self-epley maneuver which I could use at home if I ever had another episode of vertigo or dizziness.’’
Strand also learned first-hand that Albaugh – like all Rock Valley therapists – would be there to help.
“In June (2023) I had an episode of severe dizziness which left me feeling nauseous,’’ Strand explained. “When my husband called Rock Valley to get an appointment, I was told that Logan was at a conference. Several calls were made from Rock Valley and Logan saw me that afternoon. We were planning to go out of town, so I really appreciated Logan fitting me into his busy schedule. I think he probably missed part of the conference to fit me in. I did return the following week to see him.’’
Albaugh credits Strand and her dedication and attention to detail for getting through her recent issue.
“Joan had another acute dizziness episode,’’ he explained. “This time she had her home exercise program from our session in December. She was able to self-treat the symptom at home and improve her symptoms by 90%. She did come back to the clinic the next morning with some continued complaints of dizziness and fear that she was not going to be able to go on a road trip that weekend to see her family. After evaluation, it was found that she in fact did treat the correct canal and was symptom free by the end of the session. She went on a three- hour car ride that day and was able to get back to living her life symptom free.’’
Strand, Albaugh says, is a joy to work alongside.
“Joan is the type of patient that follows every instruction provided to an absolute tee,’’ he said. “If I said “jump,’’ she would say: ‘How many times and how far?’’ You can tell she understands the instruction based on her eye contact, her non-verbal communication, and her ability to self-treat when symptoms do arise. She is an absolute joy to work with.’’
By: Johnny Marx, Storyteller