Special Senses Center

Our senses of sight, sound, taste, smell and balance are intimately connected to the complex workings of the brain. Stroke, brain tumors, head injury, and many other neurological conditions, or treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation, can cause dysfunction or loss of one or more of these special senses. Problems with even one sensory mechanism can cause dramatic changes in daily life.

The Henry Ford Neuroscience Institute's Special Senses Center is led by the Department of Ophthalmology for vision disorders and by the Department of Otolaryngology for hearing, taste and smell, and balance disorders.

History of excellence

  • The Henry Ford Ophthalmology Department is one of the largest in the United States providing the full range of medical and surgical expertise for eye care. The goal is to improve damaged eyesight and, in some cases, save it altogether.
  • The reconstructive surgeons of the Department of Ophthalmology are experts in correcting structural problems of the eye, such as strabismus from stroke which causes the eyes to look in different directions or problems that result from traumatic head injuries, as well as providing expertise in the treatment of orbital tumors.
  • In the 1990s, Henry Ford established the first medically-run Visual Rehabilitation Center in Michigan. Henry Ford is the only institution in Michigan with a scanning laser ophthalmoscope to determine where the most capable vision center in a person lies in order to develop the best quality of life improvement strategies. The Center's specialized services include optical and electronic devices to maximize a patient's remaining vision, strategies and adaptive devices to make daily activities easier, and connections to resources such as transportation, large print reading materials, audio tapes, and support groups. The Center is also the only program in Michigan that has occupational therapists performing in-home assessments to identify the special living needs of these patients.
  • In 2012, the HFHS Department of Ophthalmology merged with the Detroit Institute of Ophthalmology - thereby strengthening both organizations' important work with the visually impaired and blind.
  • The Henry Ford Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery (also known as ENT), has long been one of the top centers in Michigan for the medical and surgical management of problems of the head and neck, including disorders of hearing, balance, nose, paranasal sinuses, oral cavity, voice and speech, facial trauma, and tumors. For neurological-related disorders, Otolaryngology provides expertise in balance, hearing, and taste and smell disorders.
  • Henry Ford Otolaryngology created one of the first tinnitus programs in the United States in 1994 to treat the often disabling condition of ringing in the ears.
  • One of only a few Taste and Smell Clinics in the United States dedicated to treating patients with loss of one or both of these special senses was established at Henry Ford in 1995.
  • In 2001, Henry Ford Otolaryngology created a unique Falls Prevention Clinic, a multidisciplinary program designed to identify those, particularly the elderly, who are at the greatest risk of falling and provide them with prevention techniques in daily life to reduce their risk.
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