You can guess the ending to this story. Mark Cuban found us. We diagnosed the cause of his dizziness. And we treated him. Completely fixing Mark Cuban of dizziness, aside from a little vestibular maintenance here and there.
But it’s not about the end of this story.
It’s Mark Cuban’s journey to finding the cause and effective treatment of his dizziness that is so relatable. It’s how a random family vacation would put him in our paths. It’s the challenges of treating an insanely busy, constantly traveling, multinational businessman that would inspire us to build a vestibular clinic and treatment web platform that changed the industry. And then take the solution to the public for dizzy patients across the country to have access to.
Mark Cuban’s journey through dizziness treatment is one of a kind. And will largely change the way vestibular treatment is done for decades to come.
Now, where do we begin?
The Day I Knew Something Was Off
In his blog post titled Virtual Reality Gave Me My Brain Back, Mark Cuban describes the day he woke up dizzy:
On May 20th, 2015 I was in New York City. Like I love to do on a nice day, I took a long walk through the city. When I say long, I mean long. From Columbus Circle down to the Alphabet Streets and back. My step count was through the roof :).
I got back to my apartment, showered and soon after I had a headache. I rarely get headaches so I thought maybe it was dirt and grime and whatever that had accumulated on my contacts. Took them out. I was tired. So I went to bed. Expecting to feel better in the morning after a good night's sleep.
May 21st, 2015. I woke up dizzy.
My initial reaction was that I had a form of Vertigo.
I had experienced Vertigo multiple times before. Once when I was staying in Manhattan Beach, I woke up with Vertigo, thought we were in the middle of an earthquake and rushed to alert my neighbors. All of whom made it clear that there was no earthquake. There hadn’t been an earthquake. And maybe I had too much to drink the night before.
My most recent Vertigo experience was a good 10 years ago and with a trip to the doctor I was given a few pages with a series of head movement exercises. By the next day I was fine. It was as if nothing had happened.
So on May 21st, 2015 my expectation was that all would be fine shortly. I did my exercises. Unfortunately they didn’t work. At the end of the day I was still what is easiest to describe as being dizzy, but it was far more than that.
My brain was in a fog, I felt hungover. I felt some nausea, without having had a drink. My face and ears felt full. I can’t fully describe it or give justice to just how off I felt. My balance was fine. My body below the neck was fine. I never felt better. But inside my head something was definitely wrong.
After realizing something was off, Mark would then start the grueling process that thousands of dizzy patients go through every year… finding an answer to their dizziness.
The First Wave of Treatments
When Mark left NYC and headed back to Dallas, he started “the rounds”. Maybe you’re familiar with this frustrating process of going to specialist after specialist looking for someone to definitively say what’s wrong with you.
As everyone should do, Mark started by visiting his general physician:
- First, his doctor suggested he was dehydrated and needed electrolytes. So he hydrated up. But it wasn’t the problem.
- Second, he went in for an MRI of his head and neck. Nothing wrong.
There wasn’t anything that appeared to be life-threatening, which was great news. But not the news Mark necessarily needed at the time.
- Next, he made the rounds to Ear, Nose, and Throat (ENT) doctors. The ENTs ruled out some other possible causes, but couldn’t pin down his problem.
- Then, a Neurologist immediately concluded that it was entirely stress-related, and what he really needed was to see a Psychiatrist (and also take some Klonopin).
The Klonopin was a disaster of symptoms, so he got off those quickly.
Then he got his first bit of concrete results.
- Mark visited a doctor with experience in treating dizziness-related issues. They ran through the full battery of tests that are used for these types of issues. Unfortunately, it was now the second week of June and he had to head to LA to start shooting Shark Tank in a couple of days. That doctor suggested Valium.
Finally. Something worked for him.
Aside from feeling sleepy, the Valium eliminated his dizziness. And if you watch Season 7 of Shark Tank, you might notice a more “relaxed” Mark Cuban. Now you know why.
Ultimately, the Valium was effective but he knew he couldn’t go through life on Valium. So he began weaning himself off of it.
Mark was back to “feeling off”.
With a family vacation to Southern California approaching fast, Mark was beginning to worry about how he could pull the family trip off.
A Random Family Vacation
Thinking ahead, Mark began researching dizziness specialists in the Southern California area, thinking that a change of location might give him new options for treatment.
Needless to say, Mark found the clinic where Dr. Nava and Dr. Pearce were employed at the time. And the results were almost immediate.
They ran him through the battery of tests:
From what I understand they were traditional, for the most part. I got spun, turned, twisted, ballooned and then they put me in a dark room, strapped me into a chair and asked me to use a joystick to demonstrate that I could align a red line absolutely vertical, and absolutely horizontal.
My vertical was no problem. Horizontal? I was convinced I was laying the line down so it was absolutely flat. As it turns out I wasn’t close. I was off 38pct. That was good.
The audiologist, Dr Pearce, told me that was the information they needed. She was confident she could get me back to normal. When I asked what caused the problem. There was no answer. It could be an inner ear infection or something else. But she was fairly certain that an Otolith in my vestibular system had been damaged.
Mark’s eyes and his otoliths in his vestibular system were not communicating properly. His damaged otolith was telling his brain that he was falling or imbalanced, while his eyes were saying everything was normal. This inner confusion was causing all of his symptoms.
The next day. Treatment began.
We ran him through a series of vestibular rehabilitation therapy exercises and visual desensitization videos that would fix the communication in his vestibular system. For the remaining duration of his vacation, Mark would take about an hour out of his day to come and get treated.
And the treatment was working. He was improving day over day. He saw the light at the end of the tunnel. There was hope again.
But his vacation was coming to an end.
A Breakthrough in VR Treatment
Back in Dallas, Mark found himself back in the boat of limited treatment options. Frequently traveling to and from SoCal was out of the question. There were no clinics in his area that had the equipment and/or the visual desensitization treatment options. And he even toyed with the idea of flying one of us out to Dallas in order to keep his progress moving forward while back home.
Then an idea struck him.
What if he could bring those visual desensitization videos into his VR headset and simulate the treatment he was getting from the clinic? After a bit of tinkering, the videos were successfully integrated into his VR headset and he was on the move.
Every day, Mark would put on his VR headset, from wherever he was – at home, traveling, at a Mavs game – and go through his treatments. It was working!
Slowly but surely, he went from getting treatment daily, down to every other day, then down to weekly. Until finally, he only needed to go through the VR treatment every few weeks just for “maintenance”.
And so the same challenges that Mark went through, from getting a proper diagnosis to fitting treatment into his schedule, was the inspiration that led to us creating our own vestibular clinic in Los Angeles.
We designed it to be a comprehensive and innovative clinic for the diagnostics, education, and therapeutics of dizzy patients. In working with a treatment solution that could be effective with Mark’s crazy schedule, we knew the patient’s needed a program designed to be used where they felt most comfortable – at home. Additionally, we designed a sleek and easy-to-use web platform for vestibular rehabilitation therapy accessible on a patient’s phone, computer, tablet, Smart TV, or virtual reality goggle making it easy for them to get back to a dizzy-free life outside of our clinic.
Speaking for the entirety of vestibular specialists across the globe, we have Mark Cuban to thank for pushing the boundaries of vestibular diagnostics and treatment.
Are You Dizzy?
If Mark’s story rings familiar for you, then perhaps it’s time to seek help from the Dizzy & Vertigo Institute of Los Angeles.
We’re well equipped to treat you wherever you are in the United States.
Feel free to give us a call anytime during normal business hours at (310) 954-2207.
And if you’d like to schedule an appointment (virtually or in-person), then you can send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by filling out this form.
We look forward to helping you get back to a dizzy-free life!