Keeping You Balanced: April 20, 2019

It’s a simple solution to a problem stemmed by multiple causes.  “It helps them improve balance, prevents them from losing their balance, and prevents them from falling,” said Nathalie Grondin, a physical therapist with Lee Health.

If patients struggle to maintain their balance, the balance vest may help them stay on their feet.  “It’s thought that the weights actually increase the sense of where we are in space. It’s an orthotics for the torso to support the torso. The therapist would do some testing to find out what balance areas or directions are effected in a patient. Then would put the weight counterbalance,” Grondin explained.

The weights can be anywhere from an eighth of a pound, a quarter of a pound, or a half of a pound. If a patient loses their balance backward, therapists will put weight in the front of the vest. If they lose their balance moving forward, then the weight would go in the back of the vest.

“A lot of times it’s the turning that is very weak. I ask somebody to resist a turn, and, they may be able to do it, but they are delayed in the activation of the muscles. Then I would put a weight back here where the backhand would be, and then I would retest them,” she said.

After undergoing 12 different directions of testing, physical therapists can decide how the vest will best benefit the patient.  “A lot of times it does help. If it’s a matter of activation, then the weight might give them that, ‘oh I need to react now’ and then they can correct their balance,” said Grondin.

The vest can benefit patients living with Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, ataxia, or low back problems. Helping patients maintain their balance and prevent a fall.