The majority of people with an acquired brain injury (ABI) start physical therapy with balance deficits. These complaints can often be a direct result of damage to the brain, such as a loss in visual fields, hemiparesis (muscle weakness on only one side of the body), decreased awareness of where they are in space, poor attention and problem solving, or impaired judgment and reasoning. However, secondary deficits arise from the hospitalization itself, including weakness, decreased endurance, and decreased range of motion in the legs and spine.
There is new technology and equipment to assist physical therapists in generating objective data when assessing balance deficits. At Pate Rehabilitation, we use the Biodex Balance System SD. This equipment has the ability to measure many components of balance, such as percent weight bearing, amount of lateral weight shifting, limits of stability, and postural control. This system allows therapists to perform fall-risk screening. Once treatment has started, the equipment can provide physical therapists and patients with an objective measure of their balance changes to determine whether meaningful functional progress is being made for each patient. In addition, this equipment provides audio and visual feedback, which helps promote positive neuroplasticity and motor learning in many patients with ABI.