Off Duty: Dr. Philip Griffin

Travis Long

by Mimi Montgomery

photograph by Travis Long

Dr. Philip Griffin has always had a good ear: The longtime musician plays the guitar, bass guitar, and drums – and as a true child of the ’90s, his musical tastes lean toward rock groups like Pearl Jam and Nirvana. This fascination with sound and performance led him to study speech pathology and audiology in college, where he found the relationship between hearing and balance “innately interesting.” After a doctorate in audiology and few years as a vertigo and balance specialist, Dr. Griffin is now an audiologist at Now Hear This clinic in Raleigh. “People’s individual preferences for how they experience sound have a lot of variability, a lot (of) subjectivity,” says Dr. Griffin. Advances in technology allow him to “lead the way in audiology, as opposed to (providing) an average, pre-set prescription.”

Dr. Griffin’s fascination with his field extends outside the office in unexpected ways. He frequently practices tai chi, a form of Chinese martial arts that can help people with hearing and balance problems. Because the inner ear helps to control balance, when it doesn’t work correctly, it can cause vertigo and shakiness. Tai chi helps to reduce these effects, stabilizing the body through its slow and purposeful movements. He says the practice is especially useful to seniors, keeping them active and strong, and lowering their chances of falling down. Dr. Griffin is certified to teach Tai Chi for Arthritis and Fall Prevention, a CDC-recommended program for seniors, and plans to start teaching it here in the Triangle. Outside of the clinic and tai chi, he loves working with this age group because of the stories he hears. Past patients have included concentration camp survivors and soldiers who stormed the beaches at Normandy.  “It’s these little pieces of history that you’d have no other way to know about,” he says. “It’s amazing.”