Posted on January 14, 2015. Filed under: Balance, Exercise, Falls, In the news, Lifestyle and wellness, Prevention, Research |

I enjoy reading new research on balance and how to help ourselves get better. Ball catching was found to enhance balance in seniors. The article discusses anticipatory control. When you catch a ball there is a small perturbation that happens right before you catch the ball. The body needs to anticipate by stiffening the muscles in order to catch the ball without falling over. Senior and other patients with neurological issue are not able to anticipate well. This skill can be worked on to improve control.

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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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Parkinson’s Disease Freezing Gait Tips

Posted on May 14, 2014. Filed under: Balance-Based Torso-Weighting, Parkinson's Disease, Research | Tags: , |

Here are some helpful hints from the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation regarding freezing of gait. I have also found when working with patients during physical therapy that when I see a patient starting to freeze; I say, “stop, take a step.” If you see you partner with PD starting to freeze give it a try. It works most of the time. Stop, take a step. We have found patients with PD do better using BalanceWear too. In a double blinded randomized control trial we demonstrated same session improvement in walking speed with Balance-Based Torso-Weighting.

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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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Spinal Cerebellar Ataxia SCA6 General thoughts on fatigue and weight loss

Posted on August 22, 2012. Filed under: Balance-Based Torso-Weighting, Cerebellar ataxia, Research | Tags: , , , |

Well it has been a week or two and I have new updates on our friends with SCA 6.  Rolynn left California feeling the best she had felt in years. Recently she moved and lost weight intentionally. The move left her completely exhausted. After the move she felt very unsteady again. When I saw her last she had improved….I had removed one pound from her vest leaving her with only 3/4 pounds. She replaced the weights into her vest where I had marked and this helped her ability again. She is flying to Austin to see me when I am down there and I will check her weights and placement.

Several things to think about. 1. When a patient becomes over fatigued they usually have decreased performance. ( I see this in our research all the time ) Please think about this ahead of time. When you feel tired pace your self. It may take several days to feel better again when you  over do it. 2. The intentional loss of 10 pounds could change the balance of how I placed the weights depending on where she loss the weight.  3. When people change for the better or worse we may need to change the weight placement or amount.

Arlene – Rolynn’s mom has been going to therapy and continues to do well! Last week she walked backwards in her BalanceWear vest without any support!!! This is very difficult. She hasn’t been able to do this in years. BalanceWear+therapy+determination =performance!

Who says you can’t improve with SCA6.

Hang in there. Work hard. Achieve:)

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Gail Widener PT, PhD and Diane Allen PT, PhD Receive NIH Grant to study the affects of Balance-Based Torso-Weighting

Posted on October 24, 2010. Filed under: Research | Tags: , , , , , , , |

Project Title: Movement Ability Changes with Balance-Based Torso-Weighting in Multiple Sclerosis; Grant Number: 1R15HD066397-01

We will be studing the effects of BBTW in persons with multiple sclerosis at both Samuel Merritt University and San Francisco State University. This study will look at balance and gait with and intervention called Balance-Based Torso-Weighting.

This study will be using the BalanceWear 100 Evaluation Tool kit from Motion Therapeutics. Cynthia Gibson-Horn PT designed and patented both the BBTW method and examination device. In previous research at Samuel Merritt University we found that placing weight or moving the weight a half of an inch could change how a person responded to the weighting. The Evaluation Tool Kit BW100 is especially suited for ease of fitting and weight placement.

Another study using the BBTW technology in people without disability is at Samuell Merritt Univiersity in Oakland, CA. This study is recruiting people from 40-65 years old.

The BW100 Evaluation system is currently being used in Wisconsin, New York, California, and Connecticut. Therapaists are having good responses and people are starting to get the device for home use.

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Balance-Based Torso-Weighting May Enhance Balance in Persons With Multiple Sclerosis: Preliminary Evidence

Posted on June 7, 2010. Filed under: Research |

To determine whether weight placed on the trunk in response to directional balance loss would enhance function and stability in people with multiple sclerosis (MS).


Widener GL, Allen DD, Gibson-Horn C. Balance-based torso-weighting may enhance balance in persons with multiple sclerosis: preliminary evidence.

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Comfortable Living

Posted on May 22, 2010. Filed under: Research |

Most people consider the act of walking as something automated. For those with balance impairment issues, a simple walk require intense concentration in order to stay upright and follow a proposed path.

Balance-Based Torso-Weighting is revolutionizing the way individuals with Multiple Sclerosis, brain injuries and strokes are stabilizing their body.

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