Balance Invention Developed
As a physical therapist, I work with patients with complex medical needs. Driven by a series of observations during my work with patients, I created and developed a novel treatment for patients challenged with abnormal balance and mobility. I would like to share the story of how I created and developed the balance assessment technique program known as Balance-Based Torso-Weighting® and the balance correction product now known as BalanceWear®.
I was working on an osteoporosis research study to determine whether community based exercises could result in improved balance and mobility with people after they had a suffered a fracture. As a part of this research, we were utilizing weighted vests in an attempt to promote strengthening, balance, and improved mobility. We would add increasing weight symmetrically at the bottom of the vest slowly over a few months. People in our study would learn to sit to stand, perform lunges, etc while wearing the vest.
At the same time, I was also working as a home health physical therapist. One of my patients, “Mary”, had multiple sclerosis and very poor balance. After working with Mary for a while, and seeing her struggle with balance, I had the thought “what if I could change a person’s balance by placing small amounts of weight strategically at different points on the body to counter-balance her directional balance losses something like placing small weights on a car wheel’s rim to balance the tire – wheel assembly?
To my surprise, amazing improvements happened immediately as soon as I tried my new technique. Mary improved from walking very poorly to almost normally. The only thing I had done was apply 1.5 pounds of weight to counter-balance where I found her directional imbalance. Not only did her walking improve but she could turn around, walk backwards, and reported she was less dizzy. Her comment was “I don’t have to think to move.” We both started to cry.
When someone says they don’t have to think to move, it is quite incredible because that is what it is like when we don’t have any balance & mobility problems. Hmm… What had I come up with???
See the videos on the bottom right hand side of the page.
After that dramatic improvement with this patient, I couldn’t sleep. This totally new therapy changed Mary’s walking poorly to nearly normally. In the many years I had been a therapist, I never before had seen this type of improvement in a single treatment.
This realization changed how I treat patients forever! It changed how I analyze all patient balance and mobility care and created the passion I now have for correcting balance in all patients that I encounter.
That observation and treatment has now led to a whole new line of research in physical therapy.
I began trying out this concept on many different patients with a wide variety of balance disorders and learned that each person has their own unique directional balance loss most of which could be corrected by Balance-Based Torso-Weighting: BBTW. When I corrected their balance by placing light weights strategically for balance loss, many people started moving better during the same treatment. I video-taped many of patients and showed their improved balance accomplishments to Dr. Gail Widener, PT, PhD at Samuel Merritt University in Oakland, California.
We have been doing research together ever since. Dr. Widener has been funded by the California Physical Therapy Fund and the National MS Society for research with BBTW. In 2010, Dr. Widener and Dr. Allen, PT, PhD at San Francisco State received a NIH Recovery Grant to further the study of BBTW in people with MS. We will be starting the second phase of this grant in May.
Some people in my blog state that I am really educated about what I relate in the blog. This is because I am the inventor, a physical therapist, an educator in BBTW, and a researcher in all the studies. I perform all the strategic weighting in the studies. I created, developed, and continue to work closely as we develop BalanceWear products for people with disabling balance and mobility conditions.
My next blog will be about what BBTW actually is!
Be healthy and never stop trying.