Posturography : The Art of Balance Rehabilitation

February 04, 2016
People who suffer from a balance disorder experience sensations such as moving, spinning, disorientation, or floating while standing still, sitting, or walking. Balance disorders can be caused by a number of issues such as certain medications, health conditions, or a problem directly associated with the brain or inner ear. A posturography test is one type of evaluation that doctors use to help diagnose patients before taking the next step towards treatment.

In addition to feeling dizzy or experiencing vertigo (a spinning sensation), symptoms of a balance disorder include staggering as you try to walk or wavering when you try to stand up (disequilibrium). Some patients also feel lightheaded or unsteady after certain head or body movements and positions. In the worst case scenario, you can fall down and injure yourself or be unable to go about your daily routine because your symptoms are too overwhelming and prevent you from functioning normally.

The human body uses three sensory inputs to the central nervous system to maintain proper balance and posture. These include the eyes, the inner ear, and the feet and ankles. A posturography test, also known as a computerized dynamic posturography (CDP) test, can measure the part of your body system that you rely on the most to balance. It quantifies a patient’s ability to maintain their balance under different conditions.

Doctors can use these test results as a way to determine which sensory input is not functioning correctly. This test is used first to diagnose the patient, and then again to evaluate his or her progress in response to a specific treatment. This helps doctors determine if the treatment is improving the patient’s condition or if the condition is worsening.

In order to diagnosis a balance disorder, several specialists and medical professionals collaborate together to reach a diagnosis. The Hearing and Balance Clinic at Bumrungrad has a team of professionals that include otolaryngologists (ears, nose, and throat specialists), otoneurologists (balance and hearing specialists), audiometrists (hearing loss specialists), and speech-language pathologists that work with patients to achieve the best treatment results.

If a posturography test is needed, patients will be asked to participate in a simple, painless procedure to evaluate their balance and posture. With the help of nurses who have been specially trained in balance rehabilitations, patients will be directed to stand on a special movable platform inside a booth. The patient is placed in a safety harness to ensure that they will not fall during the test.

The evaluation is conducted with the patient’s eyes open, and then again with the patient’s eyes closed. The platform below the patient’s feet will begin to incline forward and backwards, side to side, as well as glide in multiple directions. The platform is equipped with small transducers that measure the force and movement emitted from the patient during the test as they respond and adapt their balance to the moving platform.

This test helps to determine:
1) A patient’s reactions to tests that mimic everyday conditions
2) The source of the patient’s balance problem based on the three sensory inputs

Several different tests may be required to pinpoint the exact cause of the imbalance, including evaluations of the brain, ears, eyes, and nose; imaging tests; or blood pressure tests. Once Bumrungrad’s team of specialists reach a diagnosis, they will offer individualized treatment options to best restore balance.

If you have experienced any of the above symptoms, consult with your doctor so they can begin evaluating your condition and determine what is causing your balance disorder.

By Prof.Dr. Saowaros Patarapak, Otolaryngologist, Hearing and Balance Clinic, Bumrungrad Hospital.

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