Virtual Reality System Helps People Recover from Balance Disorders

A patient dons a safety harness, steps onto a platform that begins to shift beneath his feet and tries to keep his balance while watching a moving figure on a 180-degree screen. This may sound like the latest virtual reality game, but it’s actually the Bertec Dynamic CDP balance system, a device that uses NASA-inspired technology to help people recover from balance disorders.

Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Network is the first facility on the East Coast and the third in the country to offer the Bertec balance system, which aids in the recovery of people with balance and sensory processing disorders due to neurological conditions such as traumatic brain injury (TBI), concussion (a type of TBI), strokes and multiple sclerosis, as well as inner ear problems and peripheral neuropathy.

The Bertec is a big leap from previous balance therapy systems that were primarily mechanical and did not offer a realistic visual component. With the Bertec, the patient is surrounded by a screen that displays scenery, such as a grocery store aisle or plane flying through mountains. A dynamic force plate beneath the patient’s feet responds to subtle variations when the patient shifts his weight and shows movement patterns on the screen, as well as records every movement on a computer.

The Bertec allows therapists to run a variety of tests to assess how a person handles stimuli while standing on a firm or moving surface, with and without visual cues. For example, during the motor control test, when the floor of the device suddenly moves, the computer measures the time it takes a patient to right himself. The system supplies the therapist with instant feedback on the patient’s performance in comparison to age-based norms.

The therapist performs the tests when a patient begins therapy to establish a baseline and then periodically to assess progress. In addition to being used as a diagnostic device, the Bertec also is used as a treatment tool, with programs designed to improve balance, stability and vision. 

If you or someone you know has a balance disorder and would like to learn more about how Good Shepherd can help, call us at 1-888-44-REHAB (73422) or contact us online.

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