Balance disorders are a serious health concern impacting a large percentage of the population. Modern technology is offering new hope to these patients. The same technology used to measure equilibrium in NASA shuttle crews pre- and post-flight is now assisting clinicians assessing and treating patients with balance-related problems at Saint Therese. The NeuroCom EquiTest assessment and rehabilitation system available in the therapy departments at the Saint Therese New Hope and Oxbow Lake locations represents the most advanced balance and mobility assessment and treatment equipment available.
People who come to Saint Therese with balance, mobility and/or dizziness problems are tested on the EquiTest which consists of a highly sensitive force plate connected to a computer. The force plate measures the participant’s center of gravity and weight-bearing symmetry as they perform various tasks designed to objectively assess functional ability. Specific tests can isolate the different senses (vestibular, visual, and somatosensory) that contribute to balance control and help identify the participant’s balance problem. Other performance tests objectively measure the participant’s ability to safely and efficiently perform mobility tasks that are common in daily activities. The data provided by these computerized tests aid clinicians at Saint Therese in developing the best treatment for each individual.
Participants at the clinic can also perform various exercises on the EquiTest as part of their therapy. The system includes interactive technology with instant biofeedback, which is displayed on the computer screen to guide and prompt participants during rehabilitation. The participant’s movements are represented by an icon that follows exactly how a task is being performed. Targets may appear on the computer screen as the participant attempts to control their icon. The goal is to make the icon reach the targets, much like a video game. The clinician can design targets to encourage specific movements by the participant, thereby helping to build physical stability, endurance and confidence. Both the participant and clinician can see the system’s computer screen in real time as the participant shifts his or her center of gravity. Participants find the interactive nature of the system motivating as they can see immediately how they are performing.
According to several medical studies, one-third to one-half of the population age 65 and older fall each year. In a research study done by Rose D et al “the control of bodily orientation can be significantly improved in a group of older adults with a history of falls” using the NeuroCom for assessment and treatment. We feel providing this level of balance assessment and re-training technology will help us in our mission to provide services to promote the optimal health and well-being in the seniors we serve.
Learn more about how Ascend Rehabilitation and Saint Therese treat and diagnose balance disorders.