Dr. Kimberley Bell, DPT
Dr. Kimberley Bell, DPT, is a Doctor of Physical Therapy with a clinical expertise in vestibular assessment and rehabilitation, and a passion for teaching best practices for relief of dizziness, falls, vertigo and imbalance. After suffering with vertigo herself for years from several accidents and a genetic predisposition, she has realized how limited the resources are for people with these problems.
She has dedicated her career to developing a comprehensive approach, called “The Bell Method,” for assessing and treating dizziness, vertigo and imbalance, as well as geriatric fall prevention, incontinence and neuropathy.
The Bell Method integrates advanced knowledge of vestibular rehabilitation, evidence-based geriatric fall prevention strategies, compassionate communication and holistic healing. She is devoted to teaching her approach to other physical therapists and providing ongoing clinical support for their most complex cases of patients with dizziness, vertigo and imbalance or unexplained repeated falls.
“She is a joy for all who know her.”-Tim Motley
Dr. Kimberley Bell earned her Masters and Doctorate degrees in Physical Therapy from the University of Maryland, Baltimore. A licensed physical therapist since 2002, Dr. Bell practices in San Diego, California, and specializes in consultation and treatment of patients with dizziness, vertigo, imbalance, incontinence and foot neuropathy as well as unexplained repeated falls.
She has previously held Adjunct Faculty positions in the Doctorate of Physical Therapy (DPT) programs at both University of Maryland, Baltimore, and University of St. Augustine, San Diego, and is presently a regular guest lecturer at both San Diego State University’s new DPT program and the Physical Therapist Assistant Program at Mesa College in San Diego, California.
In 2007, Dr. Bell successfully completed a competency-based continuing education course at Emory University to earn a Certificate in Vestibular Rehabilitation. In 2010, she was among the first class of physical therapists in the United States to attend the Advanced Vestibular Rehabilitation Course created by the Neurological Section of the American Physical Therapy Association.
Dr. Bell has now treated or consulted on thousands of cases of patients suffering from dizziness, vertigo, imbalance or unexplained repeated falls.
She is the expert’s expert – presently serving as a clinician, professional educator, clinical mentor and consultant for physical therapists and other healthcare providers worldwide on vestibular rehabilitation across the lifespan and fall prevention strategies for older adults.
Kimberley is in the unique position of having successfully treated herself and fully recovered from benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) more than 10 times, which is the most common vestibular cause of vertigo. Her own experience of suffering for years motivated her to study this subject in detail. Despite occasional experiences of vertigo from several accidents, a genetic predisposition, history of chronic ear infections and other vestibular and balance challenges, Dr. Bell is now able to live a full, rich and rewarding life.
Through years of study, practice and her own experience of healing herself, she has developed “The Bell Method,” which represents a comprehensive methodology for identifying and eliminating the modifiable causes of vertigo, and managing that which cannot be cured to live a full and active life. Inspired by her personal experience and the lack of resources she found, Dr. Bell became passionate about increasing awareness among healthcare providers in the appropriate care for patients of all ages with dizziness and vertigo.
“I love meeting people like Dr. Bell who are deeply passionate about their work.”-K. S.
Dr. Bell began screening all her geriatric patients with unexplained repeated falls for vestibular disorders and was stunned to discover undiagnosed vestibular dysfunction in over 90% of all her older patients with chronic falls, even those without complaints of dizziness or vertigo. Additionally, realizing how close she sometimes comes to falling down during her occasional vertigo episodes, Dr. Bell became deeply aware of the stress, neck tension, anxiety, fear of falling and frequent falls that unaddressed vestibular dysfunction could cause in older adults.
Thus, Kimberley became dedicated to the cause of preventing falls in older adults, who often have undetected BPPV or other undiagnosed vestibular disorders which are contributing to their falls, unknown to them or their doctors. She started advocating for vestibular assessments for all older adults who are having unexplained repeated falls and developed a 60+ hour continuing education curriculum to train physical therapists and other healthcare providers in “The Bell Method.”
In 2008, Dr. Bell took on a volunteer leadership role as the Co-Chair of the San Diego Fall Prevention Task Force to promote best practices in fall prevention for older adults.
She recently completed her second term as the Co-Chair of the San Diego Fall Prevention Task Force, which, under her leadership, has grown exponentially in membership and received national awards and recognition for its local impact in implementing a multi-year strategic plan to educate the public on fall prevention and lessen its occurrence. She was named “Public Health Champion” of 2011 by San Diego County Aging & Independence Services for her work on community-based fall prevention.
Today, Dr. Bell remains the Clinical Leader of local efforts in San Diego County to reduce fall risk and prevent falls for older residents.
Dr. Bell was a National Spokesperson for the 2015 Vestibular Disorders Association Educational Campaign “Balance & Aging – How to Prevent Falls” to raise awareness among healthcare providers about the prevalence and common presentations of vestibular disorders in older adults. In 2015, she published a national NewsBrief on the sharp rise in fall-related deaths in older adults in the United States to raise awareness about this urgent public health issue.
Also beginning in 2015, Dr. Bell partnered with the San Diego District of the California Physical Therapy Association and the San Diego Fall Prevention Task Force to co-sponsor her new course, “The Ethics of Fall Prevention.” Together with her co-instructor Kristen Smith, MPH, Dr. Bell was able to reach hundreds of physical therapists, physical therapist assistants and students with the evidence-based recommendations for reducing fall risk in older adults by offering this PT CEU course eight times in San Diego County over a two-year period.
In 2016, she was nominated and elected by her physical therapy colleagues to serve a two-year term as a Representative of the San Diego District of the California Physical Therapy Association, a Chapter of the American Physical Therapy Association.
“Your little part of the world is lucky to have your care and influence for those in need. I am blessed to know you.”-Missy Sepulvado
Dr. Kimberley Bell is a Doctor of Physical Therapy dedicated to making a difference in the lives of individuals suffering with dizziness, vertigo and imbalance by educating physical therapists, physical therapist assistants and other healthcare providers on the most current innovative practices in vestibular rehabilitation across the lifespan, and on fall prevention strategies for older adults. The clear purpose of her work is:
- Teaching, writing and speaking out on behalf of people with dizziness, vertigo, imbalance and unexplained repeated falls
- Rescuing misunderstood and mismanaged dizzy patients
- Advocating for public awareness of undiagnosed vestibular problems in older adults with chronic falls and the importance of screening the inner ear for all older adults
- Writing and playing music that generates self-compassion, peace and hope