Today we’d like to introduce you to Valerie Johnson.
Valerie, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I was warned that it would be difficult to get a neurology job right out of PT school. They must have been wrong because right after completing my doctorate in physical therapy, I started working in vestibular rehab. Vestibular therapy is a subspecialty under the umbrella of neuro rehab that focuses on inner ear and other balance problems.
The idea of starting my own physical therapy clinic was inspired by a man who wanted to hire me on a private basis. I met him while I was working part time at a hospital in Fort Worth. He was recovering from a cerebellar stroke and wanted me to continue to help him after his release from the hospital. My husband and I had just moved from Austin, Texas, where I had been working exclusively with balance and dizziness disorders. I loved the work and noticed there really wasn’t much specialized care for imbalance and dizziness in Fort Worth. I agreed to start my own clinic so that I could work with him.
Around the same time, a friend designed my logo with an old photo of me dancing in college. As more pieces started falling into place, I launched Fort Worth Balance Therapy Center as a birthday gift to myself in 2013.
Has it been a smooth road?
I started a cash-based practice so that I can give my patients the attention they need and deserve. Finding work at another clinic that would allow me to best treat my patients was a challenge, to say the least. Most clinics are insurance based and want therapists to treat multiple people at one time. It’s important that I work one on one with my patients because balance and dizziness training can pose a fall risk. It takes courage to train balance. In order to improve balance, I need to treat it aggressively. By working one on one with my patients, I can challenge them without compromising their safety.
So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Fort Worth Balance Therapy Center story. Tell us more about the business.
I run a specialty physical therapy practice for dizziness, balance, and neurological disorders, including Parkinson’s Disease and concussions. I feel honored to be in a position to help my patients find solutions. I am unique in that many professionals do not enjoy working with dizziness and balance, and I love the challenge of diagnosing and treating the underlying causes of these problems. This patient population can be confusing to clinicians because the cause is usually complicated and time consuming to unravel. My patients often have seen a series of specialists and have been misdiagnosed before they arrive at my clinic.
Also, I can see patients either in my clinic or in their home. There are advantages to both. By providing home visits, I can accommodate people who are too symptomatic to drive. Also, the majority of falls occur in the home. I know I can prevent more falls by evaluating the home for safety.
For higher functioning individuals, I can see them out of my home clinic. We converted our garage into a legitimate rehab facility with all kinds of fun equipment and props to challenge balance. I’m most proud of myself for being able to care for my patients in a way that’s individualized and backed by strong scientific evidence.
What were you like growing up?
People would say my personality is on the sunny side. I’m known for having a lot of energy and enthusiasm. I’ve always been a good listener, which has served me well because dizzy people generally have a lot of explaining to do.
My parents enrolled me in competitive gymnastics to channel my hyperactivity as a child. In middle school I discovered dance, which turned into a long-term passion. I’ve always had a short attention span. This helped me find my niche because I had to be creative and could only tolerate work that I truly valued. Anything less doesn’t hold my interest. I’m so grateful to be able to do a job that combines my love for people with my love for movement.
Image Credit: Kristin Horan Photography
INTRODUCING THE OPENING OF FORT WORTH BALANCE THERAPY CENTER.
We bring insight and solutions to individuals living with imbalance and dizziness. Falls and dizziness are common and are never a normal result of aging. We provide clinic or in-home evaluations and treatments to this often underserved and misunderstood community. Valerie Johnson founded Fort Worth Balance Therapy Center in order to best serve those living with imbalance, dizziness, and Parkinson’s Disease. She began specializing in vestibular and Parkinson’s Disease rehab soon after completing a Doctorate in Physical Therapy from Texas State University. Valerie attended Emory University to earn her Vestibular Rehabilitation Competency Certificate sponsored by the American Physical Therapy Association. Over the years, Valerie has obtained certifications and special training in Concussion testing and recovery, Advanced Vestibular Rehab, Advanced BPPV, Vision Retraining, and Pilates. For more information, you can contact us at 5332 El Campo Avenue Fort Worth, Texas 76107