Multiple Sclerosis Treatment

MS Success Story

Posted on December 8, 2015. Filed under: Balance, Balance-Based Torso-Weighting, BalanceWear LSO, Hope, Lifestyle and wellness, Multiple Sclerosis Treatment, Physical Therapy, Postural Control, Quality of Life, Vestibular |



Interview: by Sean Noah
Daniela Lee was diagnosed with MS at age 40. The disease limited her mobility and hindered the active lifestyle that she previously enjoyed. But thanks to BalanceWear, she is surpassing the limitations of her diagnosis and reclaiming the activity and independence that she once took for granted.

How did you first hear about the vest as a potential therapy?
I read an article about the BalanceWear balance vest in the National MS Society’s quarterly newsletter. The article described how the vest could improve balance. Given the fact that balance loss was one thing that I had been suffering greatly from, that was enough to get me interested. I looked up the BalanceWear website, and reached out to Cindy.

What was the fitting session like?
Cindy Horn from Motion Therapeutics put me in touch with a very helpful Kaiser physical therapist in Richmond – Judith Fairchild. The fitting session was fast, but also uncomfortable at times – the initial pushing to assess my balance made me dizzy and very fatigued. I had to sit down and rest. Then she told me there were a couple more tests with the vest on. She moved the weights around to places that made sense according to my specific balance issues, and then said that she was going to push me again. I was already thinking “I don’t want to be pushed around again – it’s so uncomfortable!” But then she pushed me and it was a night-and-day difference. I was still a little wobbly, but I didn’t need to reach out and grab her; I was able to catch myself. By the time she finished the testing and figured out exactly where the weights should go, she could push me and I literally did not even move. I could just stand there. It was beyond what I was expecting! Furthermore, my dizziness and fatigue were both gone – I had recovered within ten minutes from my initial discomfort. It was a very positive experience with BalanceWear right away.

After the initial fitting session, how did you feel about BalanceWear?
I only wore the vest that first day for ten minutes in her office, but when I got home, the effects lasted all day. I was still walking at 11pm when my husband came home – I didn’t want to go to bed! My husband looked at me and said “you’re really walking normally, I can tell!” I was running up and down the stairs no problem. The next morning, the effects were slowly fading. From then on it was absolutely clear that BalanceWear was something I had to get. It was such an immediate effect. It was an incredibly powerful, life changing experience – I can’t describe it any other way. I felt like I was back to normal, back to how I used to walk. I’ve had issues walking, even before my diagnosis. To get walking back… people take walking for granted. It’s only when I couldn’t do it any more that I realized how important it was, for mobility, independence, and daily life.
What I realized later, once I got my own vest, was “I don’t have to think about how I’m going to take my next step.” Before, I had to map out my path, think about where I would place each foot for every step – even short 20-yard walks felt like the effort of climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro. But with BalanceWear, I feel like I have little motors in my feet.

How often do you wear the vest?
At the beginning, I was wearing it four hours a day. Pretty quickly I realized that I don’t have to wear it every day – I would still have residual positive effects the following day, so I started playing around with it. “How long will the effects last if I wear it for two hours? What about if I wear it every other day? When will I need to wear it next?” It blows my mind how it works, why it works, and how Cindy came up with the idea.

What is it like to wear the vest?
I can definitely tell when I’m wearing it, but it’s not cumbersome. It’s a positive feeling, because the plastic within the belt that goes over the front makes me feel strapped in – I feel that much more secure.
The only negative aspect is that in the summer it gets very warm because you’re strapped in and there isn’t much room for air to circulate. It can get uncomfortably warm. With MS, heat is one of the really negative outside influences – it brings on fatigue and dizziness, so even though the vest is countering your balance issues, you’re still dealing with the dizziness and the fatigue. A lighter vest would solve this problem.

What are you able to do now that you weren’t able to do before BalanceWear?
BalanceWear has absolutely given me a new sense of confidence in my abilities and my potential. I do still have symptoms that are not related to balance, and I’m aware that the vest is not going to fix those – it’s not a panacea. But I can walk normally, even jog. Before, jogging was not possible, but now, I can jog almost a half mile. I can go downtown to the farmers’ market and get what I need, without having to rest in the car for ten minutes before and after walking around. It’s such a simple thing, but believe me, it’s a big step forward.
What advice would you give to people wondering if BalanceWear is right for them?
Get assessed. Try it out, even if just in the PT’s office. You might feel right away if it makes sense for you or not.
I’m very open about my experience with BalanceWear and MS. If people want to get in touch with me, they are welcome to reach out to me, and I’d be happy to talk to them.

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Falls In MS Can Be From Pushing Too Hard

Posted on June 9, 2015. Filed under: Achievements, Balance, Balance-Based Torso-Weighting, Multiple Sclerosis Treatment, Neuroplasticity |

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Boyd-I’m wearing BalanceWear® daily and still find it effective. Actually, what I should say is that I find it MORE effective: it’s nearly 3 months now, and some days I forget to put it on for a while and yet still notice the improvements. The brain plasticity kicking in, I guess.

Cindy- When you are able to do a task without the vest over time your brain has made a new connection. Neurons that fire together wire together. This is neuroplasticity.

Boyd- I’ve had a couple of falls, but no broken bones. They’ve come at the end of long walks, so I put it down to leg fatigue more than anything else. The falls have come after pushing it a bit too far (3 miles again) and then losing it on a sloping path. I’ve since reduced the walks to less than 2 miles (3 k) and will gradually increase.

Cindy- Boyd this is great. Learning what you do and how it affects your body is an important lesson. People with MS need to know when they are starting to get fatigued and listen to the body. I am sorry you had a few falls but glad you didn’t get hurt. By cutting back a bit and allowing your body to gain endurance before taking on longer walks will help in the long run.

Boyd- I got myself a couple of walking poles and have learned that the technique of Nordic Walking is a very particular method. To learn it, I have been going to a neuro Physio at a rehab center who specializes in MS and also in Nordic Walking. Only had a couple of sessions so far, I am already feeling the benefits.
Hiking poles can be difficult to master however after one does and uses reciprocal arms and legs movements are the closest to our regular walking pattern.

Cindy- Glad to hear you are working with a therapist as they can guide your best ability. BalanceWear gives many people like yourself a new starting point.

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Postural Control in Multiple Sclerosis with Balance-Based Torso-Weighting

Posted on June 10, 2014. Filed under: Balance, Balance-Based Torso-Weighting, Multiple Sclerosis Treatment, Postural Control |

Here is an article on our research.

It is a bit complex but what it means is the following. Balance-Based Torso-Weighting (BBTW) can affect people in different ways. Some people have too much variability of movement and need less. Other people are too stiff in their movement and need more variability.

When the researchers looked at what normative movement should be they found that after BBTW their movement on either side of a normal range became closer to normal. BBTW is a very individualized strategic weighting technology. Each person is assessed and light weights are placed to provide input that decreases that particular person’s loss of balance. How the body picks up this information is also individualized because of their particular lesion site, how the afferent information ( nerve signals/ transmission) is relayed to the Central Nervous System, how it is processed, then how the messages are relayed back through the system for automatic postural synergies for balance control. This a very complex system. We are grateful that BBTW seems to be working to improve the process.

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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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handSteady: Product for Improving Steadiness With a Cup

Posted on May 6, 2014. Filed under: Ataxia, Cerebellar ataxia, Multiple Sclerosis Treatment, Parkinson's Disease, Spinal Cerebellar Ataxia |

Very nice product video for patients with tremor or shakiness of the the upper limbs. Sometime BalanceWear will stabilize the trunk thereby improving upper limb steadiness – however this is a good product too!

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Falls in Multiple Sclerosis

Posted on April 29, 2014. Filed under: Articles, Multiple Sclerosis Treatment | Tags: |

Do you have MS and do you fall?

Here is an article on falling and MS. Stay tuned to the latest research coming out in one month.
Until then I have a question?
Do you have a sense when your body is slowing down? What is it and do you rest?

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Rehabilitation for Ataxia

Posted on April 2, 2014. Filed under: Articles, Ataxia, Balance-Based Torso-Weighting, Cerebellar ataxia, Falls, Multiple Sclerosis Treatment, Research, Stroke, Uncategorized, Vestibular |

In general this is a good artice. It doesn’t get what I do and refered to our article as general weighting. However, the article addresses studies with different neurological diagnoses and the research that was done. Our research in BBTW was only one of three randomized controlled studies..Yea!

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Exercise: Basic and Intermediate Hip Exercise

Posted on November 29, 2013. Filed under: Ataxia, Cerebellar ataxia, Elderly, Exercise, Falls, Multiple Sclerosis Treatment, Multiple System Atrophy, Parkinson's Disease | Tags: , , |

Hip strength is integral to improving balance during standing or walking activities. Below are exercises to strengthen the hips in two directions: abduction and adduction.
Abduction involves moving the leg outward, away from midline of the body.
Adduction involves moving the leg inward, toward midline of the body.

Basic (Snow Angels)
1. Lay on back with arms at rest on chest or abdomen and head supported with a pillow
2. Perform “snow angel” movement: Move right leg slowly and smoothly away from and then back toward the left leg while keeping legs in full contact with the surface.
3. Perform 3 sets of 10-20 repetitions or until fatigued
4. Repeat on left leg.
5. MODIFICATION: if this exercise is too difficult to perform due to friction of the moving leg on the sliding surface, place a plastic bag under the heel of the moving leg to reduce friction.
Muscles used: inner thigh and outer hip muscles

Intermediate (Clam shells for abduction)
1. Lay on side on a firm surface (floor or firm bed) with knees bent to 90 degrees.
2. Keeping your feet touching, hinge open your top leg about 12 inches without letting your hips fall forward or backward. Your knees will open up like a clam shell does (hence the exercise name).
3. Hold for 1-3 seconds and perform 10-20 repetitions or until fatigued.
4. Lay on other side and repeat
Muscles used: outer hip muscles

Intermediate (Pillow squeezes for adduction)
1. Sit upright on firm surface (chair, bench, etc.) with good posture and feet flat on floor with knees bent to 90 degrees.
2. Place pillow between knees and squeeze that pillow for 3-5 seconds and repeat 10-20 times or until fatigued.
Muscles used: inner thigh muscles

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Exercises for people MS

Posted on April 3, 2013. Filed under: Balance-Based Torso-Weighting, Exercise class, Multiple Sclerosis Treatment |

I read the LinkedIn Rehabilitation Medicine comments. Today there was one on Exercise For People With MS. Exercise should be tailored to your specific needs based on an evaluation performed by a rehab specialist. It should include tests and measures of strength, range of motion, balance, and endurance among others. Core stability of the trunk is essential and many of my patients have improved their ability with Yoga, Tai Chi and Pilates. They have also been able to accomplish greater challenges wearing the BalanceWear devices. However, because of the fatigue that people with MS experience the exercise should be targeted to those that will accomplish the most. That being said there was a link in the discussion that I will share from the MS trust.

Let me know what you think:)

Pick one or two and give it a try….Be Active!

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Posted on March 29, 2013. Filed under: Ataxia, Cerebellar ataxia, Elderly, Falls, Head Injury, Multiple Sclerosis Treatment, Multiple System Atrophy, Parkinson's Disease, Stroke |

Empathy: To recognize emotions felt by others

This video depicts the emotions of being in the hospital of both caregivers and patients. Everyone has something going on in their head at all times. Many times we don’t take the time to understand how the person feels, their wants, or their needs. We put our own thoughts into the equation about what we think they need as health care professional.

I saw an email come by the other day of a woman crying as she saw a video of a person able to dance at the National Ataxia Foundation…she wrote she is afraid to leave the house because she knows people think she is drunk…but she has ataxia. One of the doctors I showed the same video to said, “She said she had ataxia..right? But you don’t know…” In other words he felt she was magnifying her symptoms or she had a psychological problem. Why would someone be at the National Ataxia Foundation Meeting???

When I mentioned this to the person in the video ( the person who could dance for the first time in 12 years) she said the first few years they sent me to a psychologist. Really!!! Why can’t we just try to help people instead of making judgements.

What I can’t understand is why we wouldn’t want to understand why she can dance rather than think she is having symptoms of ataxia for alternative purposes.

I will continue this discussion… Please try to understand and not make judgements:)

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