August 5, 2016

POSTUROGRAPHY & THE POWER OF BALANCE

Today we continue our series on the different methods we use to diagnose brain problems and processing issues at Plasticity Brain Centers. Our last blogs covered video-oculography, which measures brain function by taking a close look at your eye movements, and saccadometry, which measure function with your fast eye movements.

Our blog this week will cover a different sort of test:

Posturography.

As you can gather from the name, posturography is the recording of your body’s posture and balance—simply put,your ability to stand upright. Our functional neurologists use sophisticated, highly-sensitive technology that measures your weight distribution in real time. We employ a platform with 3 powerful sensors that can triangulate your weight (and thus your posture) in 3D space.

In fact, here’s how powerful the sensors are:

When we have elite athlete clients stand perfectly still on the platform, we can detect their heartbeat through their feet. The technology is able to pick up the slightest variation in weight and stance, which in turn increases the precision of our diagnoses.

HOW POSTUROGRAPHY WORKS

If you’re familiar with our blog, you’re familiar with how sensory receptors work. Muscle receptors, for example, take mechanical movement (stretch and bend) and transduce it into electrical signals for the brain to interpret. In the same way, the 3 sensors in our computerized platform take your weight distribution and transduces the signals into readings about your balance and stability.

The computer uses a complex algorithm to tell our doctors:

  • If you lean forward, backward, or to the left or right
  • If your stability increases or decreases as you stand
  • If you bounce while you stand
  • How likely you are to fall (in a stability score)

THE BRAIN & YOUR BALANCE

You may be surprised to learn that both healthy and non-healthy people can have compromised balance. It’s a common problem, and the central issue is often the brain. Articles in multiple medical journals have found that posture is one of the most sensitive biomarkers for brain function in the human body. In other words, the brain is vital to helping us stand upright.

It is a fundamentally human thing to stand upright—aside from those with spinal injuries, it is the only natural posture for a healthy person. Have you considered how amazed we are when an animal can stand on its hind legs? Or how vulnerable a person seems by their inability to stand under their own power? Yet we take our ability to stand, walk, or run upright for granted on an everyday basis.

When the brain begins to deteriorate and lose function, one of the first things we lose is our ability to stand with stability. When our clients come to us with traumatic brain injuries or neurological disorders, we can use posturography to establish a baseline. With a baseline, we can measure the severity of their conditions while working to undo or limit any damage.

Perhaps posturography’s most vital function for those with a family history of neurological diseases is this: our tests allow us to catch brain degeneration early and quickly.

POSTUROGRAPHY: DIAGNOSTICS & SCREENING

At Plasticity Brain Centers, we are highly familiar with the way the vestibular, visual, and somatosensory systems integrate to create upright posture. Instability under certain conditions specifically indicates where brain function is lacking. As a result, our functional neurologists can actually use posturography for both screening and to create diagnoses.

Here’s how it works:

We have the patient stand on a stable platform to establish a baseline. We conduct tests with their eyes open and their eyes closed, allowing us to measure how their visual system contributes to their balance.

We then conduct tests while asking them to complete mental tasks, thus revealing how much their frontal lobe is contributing to their balance.

Finally, we repeat all these tests while the client stands on a “perturbed” surface, or an uneven platform. Usually we employ a foam cushion, which has been validated in multiple vestibular tests. These tests allow us to test the somatosensory system on two different surfaces and give us an idea of how it contributes to the client’s sense of balance.

We also have clients turn their head during tests to see if the neck is contributing to a lack of stability. Information from receptors in the neck can have an effect on balance, so turning the head engages these receptors and sees whether they integrate effectively.

Turning the head up and down and side-to-side also gives us a look into how orientation and the vestibular system functions in the brain. Again, we do these tests with eyes opened and eyes closed, further narrowing down where the brain’s lack of integrity is located.

USING READINGS TO CREATE THERAPIES

Between video-oculography, saccadometry, and posturography, our doctors develop an exhaustive understanding of each client’s brain. We can triangulate brain dysfunction to a hyperlocal degree, and what circumstances are the root cause of your lack of balance, slow processing, or memory loss.

That means we can use our readings to create the specific therapies each client needs. Whether you have a high-performance job that requires you at your best, or you have a neurological injury that needs treatment, our testing is the bedrock of our diagnostic and therapy programs.

Ultimately, the purpose of these tests are not to impress with our technology or to gather reams of information about your brain—the ultimate goal is to make you better.

We simply employ highly sophisticated technology and leaders in the field of functional neurology in order to do so.

If you or your patient could benefit from more efficient brain processing, brain injury rehabilitation, better cognitive performance, or any other kind of neurological aid, call Plasticity Brain Centers today.

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