Our peer-reviewed study at the Ergonomics Department of Colorado State University “has documented statistically significant improvements in the performance of sit-to-stand, and both stair ascent and stair descent in a group of older adults with perceived balance and functional impairment while standing. These improvements were immediately following ~15 min of prescribed use of the Balancer. The statistical findings in these tests were P < 0.05, (indicating less than a 5% chance that the improvements occurred due to random effects). Therefore, we are confident that appropriate use of the Balancer with its accompanying training progression is effective for combating deficits in balance and physical function.”
Click here to read the Peer Reviewed Research
Clinical Evaluation conducted by Peter I. Edgelow PT, DPT
- Doctor of Physical Therapy
- Senior Staff Therapist at Physiotherapy Associates Clinic in Hayward, CA
- 1988 California’s Royce B. Noland Award of Merit for outstanding physical therapist
- 1999 National APTA Henry O. & Florence P. Kendall Practice Award for Outstanding and Enduring Contributions to the practice of Physical Therapy
- Assistant Clinical Professor in the Graduate Program in Physical Therapy at UCSF Medical Center
- In private practice since 1964
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to both learn about your balance treatment machine and to evaluate it with 30 patients over the past 5 months. Before giving you a summary of my findings, I wish to clarify the setting of my evaluations.
As you know, I specialize in treating longstanding, chronic cervico-brachial pain problems. The diagnosis falls into the category of Neurogenic Thoracic Outlet Syndrome (NTOS). In the past my protocol for treating these patients included balance re-training. This was accomplished while sitting on a gymnastic ball, and walking on a treadmill with eyes open and eyes closed. I have not used any of the regular standing balance devices on the market because I have not found one that was better than the above-mentioned methods. Therefore your machine that assesses and treats balance in standing was of interest to me since stimulating balance when standing is more effective because it deeply stimulates the reflex righting reaction associated with upright posture.
I should also make it clear that this was a clinical evaluation and not a research evaluation. Therefore no informed consent was needed and no institutional research board approval was obtained for the evaluation. In order to protect the confidentiality of the patients seen I am not able to make more than general statements comparing my experience evaluating your balance device with the more traditional methods I use with these patients. (I was particularly careful with these patients not to mix the evaluation of The Harwin Balancer ™ with any treatment other than my standard protocol.)
In general I can report that my patients experienced the following benefits from using The Harwin Balancer™:
- For the majority of patients there was a decrease in pain from 10-30% after standing on The Harwin Balancer ™ for just a few minutes. (This rapid and significant decrease in pain was unexpected considering thesepatients have had their problems for up to 4 years.)
- One patient with a 40-year history of chronic low back pain, with complications from spinal surgery including Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy experienced a dramatic reduction in pain, and also commented that she felt taller thanshe had in many years, after standing on The Harwin Balancer ™ for only ten minutes. Initially she could not balance without holding on to the rails and focusing her eyes on a point on the wall. Within 5 minutes she progressed to beingable to balance without gripping the rails, but still needed to fix her gaze, and finally after a few minutes more she was able to relax her eyes and gaze normally without losing her balance.This depth and speed of response was completely unexpected.
- Working with a young boy with Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy as a result of an ankle injury, I found using The Harwin Balancer ™ allowed him to activate the muscles in his ankle reflexively without causing painful exacerbation.When I had attempted to actively elicit muscle activity in his ankle he would experience a significant increase in pain.
- One patient, who I was treating for a moderately severe whiplash injury reported that his mental fogginess vanished and he could think clearly again as a result of standing on The Harwin Balancer ™ for a few minutes. He reports that his thinking had been impaired since the accident.
- Another patient with a 14-year history of chronic Cervicobrachial pain found The Harwin Balancer ™ was the only exercise she could do that decreased her pain, and did not exacerbate her condition. She had been a professional ballet dancer when in her 20’s, and she said that using this device brought her back the kinesthetic feeling of awareness in her body that she had felt as a dancer, and until now, hadn’t realized she had lost.
- A recent patient came in for evaluation and treatment of a tremor in her whole right shoulder and arm. Assessment on the balance machine followed by walking and focusing on swinging the arms in synchrony resulted in a significant reduction in the tremor at rest.
- In some cases patients who had cold hands noted a warming response from using the balancer.
- With The Harwin Balancer ™ I am able to evaluate and treat balance dysfunction by the second visit. This is significantly earlier in my treatment regimen than when I use other types of equipment.
- With all patients balance when standing and walking was noticeably improved after the first session, with this improvement being sustained over time.
- Patients commented they felt more stable when walking, and that they felt taller after using The Harwin Balancer ™
- Postural awareness consistently improved with all patients, after just a few minutes of standing on The Harwin Balancer ™ .
- Many patients reported that it was easier for them to breathe with the diaphragm after standing on The Harwin Balancer ™ for about a minute.
- Patients found The Harwin Balancer ™ to be very gentle, easy to use, and that it did not cause an increase in their symptoms. In two cases, the use of The Harwin Balancer ™ was the only exercise device that these patients could use without aggravating their condition.Continued use resulted in an increase in endurance and a decrease in pain.
In the past I have tried the typical balance exercises on 1 foot, 2 feet, 1 foot in front of the other, balance board, etc. I have also tried patients on a treadmill with eyes open and closed.The responses to these activities have been disappointing, while the stimulation of the righting response using The Harwin Balancer ™ is both dramatic and has a sustained response from visit to visit. It is very gentle and easily controlled by the patient. This is particularly important with my patient population, as they sometimes exacerbate easily.
The device is different from anything I have seen in my 44 years of clinical experience.I feel the results I have witnessed using The Harwin Balancer ™ certainly justifies a clinical trial to evaluate the long-term effect of its use. I think it needs to be evaluated on problems besides chronic neck and arm pain to assess its full efficacy. I am pleased to hear it is being studied at St. Helena Hospital, and would encourage clinical trials in the rehabilitation arena, with more severe neuromotor conditions such as CVA’s and Multiple Sclerosis and in the older age group of patients where falling is a significant risk.
Peter I. Edgelow, PT, DPT