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Using biofeedback technology to improve your balance

Sheelah Woodhouse

PT, BScPT, Vestibular Physiotherapist

Monday, Jun. 17, 2019
older woman looking out window

Lifemark is proud to be the exclusive Canadian distributor of the BrainPort Balance Plus Device, which you may remember from the bestseller The Brain that Changes Itself by Dr. Norman Doidge. 

The BrainPort Balance Plus is a battery-operated device that provides low levels of electrical stimulation to the tongue, giving you immediate biofeedback regarding the position of your head and body when you perform balance training exercises with your eyes closed. 

During a training session, you feel gentle electro-tactile impulses on your tongue, giving you instant cues when moving out of an upright position.

Who is it for?

The BrainPort Balance Plus can be used by people with vestibular dysfunction who have reached a plateau with conventional vestibular rehabilitation and/or balance training.

If you suffer from loss of vestibular function, such as when the balance organs in one or both of your inner ears are no longer sending your brain adequate information about your head position, the BrainPort Balance Plus can help you improve your balance, gait, posture and other related symptoms.

It can also be utilized in balance retraining programs for a variety of other conditions, including:

  • Central Vestibular Disorders
  • Stroke
  • Traumatic Brain Injury
  • Concussion
  • Multiple Sensory Deficits

The device provides sensory substitution for missing or inaccurate vestibular cues, creating a stabilizing effect on the head and body. It is believed to foster neuro-plasticity. 

As with any treatment, people respond differently and not everyone sees improvement. The device is most appropriate for those who do not accurately sense balance, more so than for those who sense balance well but have problems with controlling their body/limb movements to make balance reactions or corrections.

It should not be used if you have any neurological condition that causes impaired sensitivity to your tongue or loss of consciousness.

How long do you use it for?

The BrainPort Balance Device is intended to be used for two 20-minute sessions per day, separated by at least 4 hours. 

People typically demonstrate improved balance while using the device and, in an even more exciting development, after the device is removed. To maximize and then maintain your gains, you’ll have to use the device on an ongoing basis.

In our experience, people are typically able to decrease their training frequency over time while maintaining a level of balance that they’re happy with.

How can I try the BrainPort Balance device?

Lifemark currently has 3 locations that offer the opportunity to train with the device and, if desired, purchase it: Brampton and Windsor/Tecumseh in Ontario, and Vancouver, BC. For more information, you can visit http://bit.ly/brainport_info.

Sheelah Woodhouse

PT, BScPT, Vestibular Physiotherapist

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