Patient working with Balance Tutor post-stroke.

INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA, UNITED STATES, May 12, 2021 / -- Known nationally and internationally for their research and rehabilitative success, the Rehabilitation Hospital of Indiana (RHI) has a new tool in its toolbox. The hospital recently purchased a Balance Tutor, one of just four multidirectional reactive balance trainers in clinical use nationwide. The device helps patients regain their mobility using high-intensity dynamic stability training, a method that is proving more effective than traditional methods.

“Previous research with stroke survivors found that patients who received high-intensity step training in variable conditions walked faster and farther than the low-intensity, variable training group,” said Dr. T. George Hornby, Director of RHI’s Locomotor Recovery Laboratory. “This kind of training challenges the nervous system and produces greater changes in less time, which translates into more efficient rehabilitation services and improved mobility.”

The Balance Tutor is a treadmill designed to mimic the real-world experience by shifting right or left under the user, stopping suddenly, or speeding up quickly to replicate slips and trips. During dynamic stability training, an overhead harness keeps users safe as they learn to navigate these challenges and keep their balance.

“It can be unnerving to use, because the Balance Tutor is so different than anything patients have used before, but the results are compelling,” said Hornby. “Those who have used it have seen real improvement in their stability and their ability to handle real world situations.”

While high intensity locomotor practice offers patients better outcomes, it is only one piece of the puzzle. Patients who do variable step training during high-intensity walking, such as tackling uneven surfaces, inclines, and stepping over obstacles, improve dynamic balance while walking.

“There are lots of machines out there to help patients walk or run fast, but there is a big difference between walking on a flat treadmill and walking in the real world,” said Hornby. “We are excited to conduct research with the Balance Tutor so we can learn the best ways to use the machine to help our patients achieve the best possible outcomes.”

RHI is already conducting research studies using the Balance Tutor with patients who have had a stroke, spinal cord injuries, and brain injuries. They are seeking grants to fund additional research with patients with other neurological injuries.

“Equipment like the Balance Tutor and our intensive research program to determine the best ways to use it to help patients is what sets us apart from the competition,” said Dr. Dan Woloszyn, RHI CEO. “Our rehabilitation programs are exceptional, and we look forward to advancing locomotor research and improving the lives of our patients who use the Balance Tutor.”

The other three Balance Tutors in the United States are located in Seattle, Washington; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; and in southwest Missouri.


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