Balance-Based Torso-Weighting and Fall Reduction in a BalanceMaster

Posted on June 2, 2014. Filed under: Falls, Multiple Sclerosis Treatment |

People with multiple sclerosis (MS) fall frequently. Balance-based Torso-weighting (BBTW) can improve gait speed and increase time spent in single-limb support while walking. However, the association between BBTW and falls has not yet been examined in people with MS.
Investigate the effects of BBTW on balance and fall frequency recorded by the sensory organization test (SOT) in people with MS.
51 people with MS and gait and balance difficulties completed the sensory organization test twice in a single session. The first test was completed without weights and the second was completed following the placement of weights on the torso using the BBTW method. Testing lasted 3 to 5 hours and data regarding falls and mobility were collected with and without weights. A mandatory rest break followed each test, and additional breaks were given as needed. In two cases, fatigue resulted in shortened testing. The composite scores of the SOT recorded participants standing for 3 trials each of 6 different conditions. The 6 conditions tested were eyes open (EO), eyes closed (EC), surround moving (EO), platform moving (EO), platform moving (EC), and platform and surround moving together (EO). The number of falls that occurred in all of these trials were tallied, both with and without weights. A fall was defined as touching the surround, taking a step, or being caught by an overhead harness. Paired t tests compared participants’ composite score and fall occurrence between conditions with alpha set at .05.
A significant change occurred in composite score (CS) from non-weighted to weighted trials, from 50.9 to 60.1. A change of 8 points in the CS is considered significant. Twenty-eight participants (55%) increased their CS by 8 points or more (the most dramatic increase was by 38 points), sixteen participants (31.4%) increased their CS scores by 1-7 points, one participant (2%) had no change, and six participants (11.8%) decreased their score by 2 to 6 points. The occurrence of falls also differed between weighted and non-weighted trials. There were 212 (60.7%) falls in the non-weighted trials and 137 (39.3%) falls in the weighted. No correlation was found between the number of falls and the participants ages.
A significant decline in falls as well as an increase in balance composite score occurred with BBTW (weighted trials) during single testing sessions despite the potential for fatigue. BBTW is a promising intervention that may lead to a decrease in falls when worn by people with MS.


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One Response to “Balance-Based Torso-Weighting and Fall Reduction in a BalanceMaster”

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What an exciting conclusion! I know I had such success with and without (carryover) my vest while using Balance Master. Love my BalanceWear! 🙂

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