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 |

boyd boyd 1

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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Practice makes Perfect…No Perfect Practice makes Perfect

Posted on January 13, 2015. Filed under: Ataxia, Balance, Balance-Based Torso-Weighting, Cerebellar Degeneration, Falls, Neuroplasticity, Postural Control |

Here is an article about practicing strokes in tennis and the follow through movement making a difference in learning. Practice and repetition is associated with neural changes in the brain. How we practice makes a big difference. In the patient world and for those with disability BalanceWear can provide the balance control needed to practice correct movement. In some cases patients do not realize what is changing and can not feel the difference. An example I noted recently; a patient with cerebellar degeneration did not really feel the difference BalanceWear made in their walking however other people did. Every time she walked she her feet hit her walker because they were so far out to the side in wide base support. When she was wearing BalanceWear her legs were underneath her and did not hit the side of the walker during gait. She said she falls daily even in her walker. Why? Because she trips herself on the walker. She did not feel the difference with her legs underneath her but she is less likely to trip on the walker. Walking with her legs underneath her with a better base of support for many miles over the next several months should provide improved control as the brain learns more accurate movement.

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Ataxia: Does Weighting Increase Ataxia?

Posted on September 29, 2014. Filed under: BalanceWear Stabilizing Garments, Neuroplasticity, Questions and Answers, Research |

Hey Cindy
I have heard arguments against weighting individuals, saying it will cause the ataxia to worsen when they are not wearing the weights. Is this the case with Balancewear?

I have heard of that literature too. It was a concern for me in the second paragraph beleow. But then we learned something valuable.

I would say in 95 % of the cases I have worked with and have heard about BalanceWear (BW) helps a patient have less ataxia or controls it better than without BW during wear. The difference I believe stems from wearing weights to load the body not balance the body as we do in the BBTW technology. When we see increased ataxia in PT it is often short-term during a session where the patient is heavily weighted to control their ataxia and we take it off.

We did have one person get worse initially and were going to take the vest away in one of our BBTW research projects. The patient had worn it for 10 hours when we asked she wear it for 1 hour daily per week. She told us she felt so much better in the device so she didn’t want to take it off. We said we would watch for one more week. She continued to wear it for 10 hours per day. I am so glad we watched her as the BERG score went up two points with only wearing the device no PT. Think what PT + BalanceWear could have done. So the question becomes dosage. I have no idea if patients wore heavy weighted vests if they would get better too. What we are doing with BalanceWear is much more refined and specific to the patient. Each person has their specific weight placement and distribution based on an assessment of directional instability.

Our advise is that they wear BalanceWear for several hours every day..The dosage is still being worked out
(actually I think it should be patient specific) and therapists as well as patients have an opportunity to add to the body of knowledge with this.

In a recent case report the patient TBI wore it 6 hours per/day. If patients moves with improved motor control over hours every day they get the mass practice that is touted in the literature that creates cortical reorganization necessary for neuroplasticity. Unfortunately many therapists in the clinic are unable to give their patients the practice needed or to create an environment that leads to smoother motor control over many hours a day. BalanceWear provides this to patients; not only in the clinic but at home during their daily activities which we try so hard to emulate in the clinic.

I believe I am shifting our practice to think beyond the clinic with a device that can help patients over the long run; which many of them require.

I am very sorry the patient had to discharge. I actually have patients who come to me for that reason. Using the BBTW technology and BalanceWear often gives a patient a new platform on which to rehab as their balance is stable.

Thanks for the opportunity to share my thoughts.

Anyone one out ther want to share your thoughts on if your ataxia is worse when you take it off? Please let me know wear times etc.

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Posted on July 25, 2013. Filed under: Neuroplasticity |

According to leading neurology expert, Dr. Darcy Umphred, Neuroplasticity refers to the brain’s ability to reorganize itself and form new neural connections.1 When one has an injury to the brain from trauma or disease, the brain has two options:
1) Utilize the surrounding healthy cells (neurons) to compensate for the loss by reassigning their function.
2) Sever the connection to the injured region and lose function.

How does the brain decide which option to chose? The decision is majorly based upon amount of use. Put simply, use it or lose it. A person with damage to the brain must regularly practice that function or risk losing that ability. For example, a varsity athlete in high school won’t retain that high level of skill or athleticism four years later if he/she doesn’t continue to practice. The same principle applies to brain injury. If one loses the ability to function in a specific area, they must practice this function in order to promote the growth of new neural pathways.

The brain creates these pathways based upon the input that it receives. For example, an individual who has lost their ability to see utilizes their other four senses more regularly. This occurrence results in the reassignment of the brain’s vision areas to augment the other frequently used senses.

Neuroplasticity is vital in the rehabilitation process and is the likely mechanism behind the functional improvements seen with BBTW. In improving balance and alignment, this device allows individuals to practice their deficient areas of function more easily and drive positive neuroplastic changes. This results in enduring functional improvements and increased participation in daily activities.

1. Umphred DA. Neurological Rehabilitation. 5th edition. Elsevier Health Sciences; 2007: 62.

By Jaclyn Fridolfsson soon to be DPT

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