Balance Vest Offers Control
A Weighted Vest May Improve Balance
Small weights sewn into a customized vest seem to restore stability for people with multiple sclerosis.
By Dr. Sanjay Gupta
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More on Multiple Sclerosis From Dr. Sanjay Gupta:
What Kind of MS Do I Have?
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Sanjay Gupta, MD, Everyday Health: It's tough being the father of a teenage daughter. The little girl who once adored you now seems to be embarrassed by you. It's even tougher if you have a disability that affects how you walk and how you talk.
A few years ago, Steve Ofca [who has multiple sclerosis] could not have walked down the street with his daughter Alex.
Dr. Stephen Kanter, physical therapist, International Multiple Sclerosis Management Practice in New York City: Go ahead and sit back down.
Dr. Gupta: He couldn’t do this, either. Sitting down meant basically falling down. But he found a surprising way to reduce those symptoms, and it was as easy as slipping into a shirt.
His physical therapist, Dr. Stephen Kanter, demonstrates what he used to do.
Dr. Kanter: This type of sitting is indicative of a loss of control, loss of coordination, and loss of balance.
Dr. Gupta: The transformation from this … to this, all thanks to this simple vest.
Steve Ofca: This is my BalanceWear vest, and it’s calibrated to meet my specific needs. And Dr. Kanter gave me weights up on my left shoulder and also on my right side.
Dr. Kanter: And now I’m going to push you around a little bit. I’m not going to let you fall.
Dr. Gupta: Those carefully placed weights somehow restore his stability.
Steve Ofca: I can’t explain. All I know is that it works. It makes my life, the quality of my life, so much better.
Dr. Gupta: Dr. Kanter can’t entirely explain it either.
Dr. Kanter: You would think it shouldn’t work. But it wasn’t about weighting them in the opposite direction they were falling. It was a matter of putting a weight on them to change the way their body perceived being in space.
It sounds a little bit hocus-pocus, and if I hadn’t seen what I’ve seen, I wouldn’t believe it worked, either.
Dr. Gupta: Studies have backed up that it works, but not how it works. There's no cure for MS, but there are a lot more ways to manage the symptoms than there were even a decade ago when Steve was diagnosed. And even more are in the pipeline.
With Everyday Health, I'm Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Be well.
Video: Balance Vest Benefits
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