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 Therapy Assistant Program at Mesa College in San Diego, California.
In 2007, she completed a rigorous course of study at Emory University to become a Herdman-Trained Vestibular Specialist, a credential which is widely accepted as the gold standard in treating patients with dizziness, vertigo and balance disorders. 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) multiple 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 a car accident, a genetic predisposition 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, Dr. Bell became passionate about increasing awareness among healthcare providers in the appropriate care for patients of all ages with dizziness and vertigo.
“We must learn to cure what need not be endured and how to endure what cannot be cured.” -BKS Iyengar
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.”
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.