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Balance - Weighting for Results: June 21, 2014

Talk about dressing for success. A novel approach to balance problems is helping many people regain stability, by adding some weight to their wardrobe.

“It can be worn under the clothing so you really don’t see it at all. It’s not very bulky and the weights are very small,” says Dawn Root, a physical therapist for Lee Memorial Health System.

The concept of wearing a weighted vest is not new, but a better design is making it a better option. Attached with Velcro, soft, padded weights are comfortable and easy to hide. The key, as in all clothes, is in the fit.

“We gently push them in different directions. We determine which directions they’re weaker or where they’ll tend to move and then we’ll use small weights and we put them on this vest on their torso in different positions to essentially counterbalance where those weaknesses are,” says Root.

Therapists are finding the extra layer of support is boosting patients with a variety of balance issues. From sporadic weakness to physical impairment to neurological disorders, the added bulk is making a difference.

“The theory is, it increasing what they call proprioception, which is the body’s sense of where it is in space. A lot of the patients will say they feel more grounded, they just feel steadier; they just feel more attached to the ground,” says Root.

Faced with an unsteady future, it’s no wonder many balance patients are weighting for results.