Science and Art of Balance
The 3 Amigos of Proprioception
nervous system (brain and spinal cord), the skeletal structure, and the
musculature are complex systems that work as a team to provide the right output
for proper body stabilization against gravitational forces.
depend on messages to and from the control room of the brain. The brain
remembers patterns of movement, not of individual muscle contractions.
If your proprioceptive
system is operating normally... you won't ever cut your face
shaving with your eyes closed.
Presuming a healthy balance system, which do you think is
easier and which can you do faster? Running on ice with your eyes
closed or open?
Inner Ear and Stimulation
Audio-Biofeedback for Bilateral Vestibular
A Portable audio-biofeedback (ABF) system could be mounted on
a Glider Rider MTV that encodes the signals provided by a linear accelerometric
sensor into a stereo sound. This sound is relayed to the subjects via IR
headphones and can enhance the ability of subjects to perceive trunk
accelerations. System has been tested on nine healthy subjects while they
stood in three conditions listening to the ABF representation of their trunk
The ABF significantly improved the subjects' balance in all three
conditions. The subjects reported that they were
comfortable wearing and using the ABF device. Results suggest that
devices such as this ABF system may be used for balance
training and balance rehabilitation therapy.
Balance Disorders Laboratory, Oregon Health
and Science University
Many studies are being conducted in the Balance Disorders
Laboratory that is run by Dr. Fay Horak. Dr. Horak is developing a new
clinical tool for physical therapists to diagnose and rehabilitate balance
disorders. James Frank PhD is studying how people learn how to balance when
exposed to predictable surface perturbations. Patty Carlson Kuhta, PhD, is
studying the effect of deep brain stimulation in people with Parkinson´s
disease. Geoff Wright, PhD, is investigating perception of vertical in subjects
with vestibular loss and subjects with Parkinson´s disease. Jesse Jacobs is
interested in step initiation in people with Parkinson´s disease and healthy