Ms. Schiltz, too, whose vestibular system was damaged by gentamicin, an inexpensive generic antibiotic used for Gram-negative infections, said that the first few times she used the BrainPort she felt tiny impulses on her tongue but still could not maintain her balance. But one day, after a full 20-minute session with the BrainPort, Ms. Schiltz opened her eyes and felt that something was different. She tilted her head back. The room did not move. "I went running out the door," she recalled. "I danced in the parking lot. I was completely normal. For a whole hour." Then, she said, the problem returned.
She tried more sessions. Soon her balance was restored for three hours, then half a day. Now working with the BrainPort team at the University of Wisconsin, Ms. Schiltz wears the tongue unit each morning. Her balance problems are gone as long as she keeps to the regimen.
How the device produces a lasting effect is being investigated. The vestibular system instructs the brain about changes in head movement with respect to the pull of gravity. Dr. Bach-y-Rita speculated that in some patients, a tiny amount of vestibular tissue might survive and be reactivated by the BrainPort.
Dr. Black said he had seen the same residual effect in his own pilot study. "It decays in hours to days," he said, "but is very encouraging."
Blind people who have used the device do not report lasting effects. But they are amazed by what they can see. Mr. Weihenmayer said the device at first felt like candy pop rocks on his tongue. But that sensation quickly gave way to perceptions of size, movement and recognition.
Wicab conducted a clinical trial with the balance device in 2005 with 28 subjects suffering from bilateral vestibular disorders (BVD). After training on BrainPort, all of the subjects regained their sense of balance for a period of time, sometimes up to six hours after each 20-minute BrainPort session. They could control their body movements and walk steadily in a variety of environments with a normal gait and with fine-motor control. They experienced muscle relaxation, emotional calm, improved vision and depth perception and normalized sleep patterns
Vestibular Study Results Summary
This summary compiles data from 93 subjects with balance deficits
The BrainPort Balance Device as a Potential Training Aid in the Rehabilitation of Balance Following Vestibular Surgery
ARO (Association of Research in Otolaryngology) 2008 poster presentation
The BrainPort Balance Device as a Potential Aid in the Rehabilitation of Balance and Mobility after Stroke or Traumatic Brain Injury
SFN (Society for Neuroscience) 2007 poster presentation
Training with the Brainport Balance Device Has the Potential to Decrease Falls in Elderly Patients with Vestibular Disorders
ARO 2007 poster presentation
A New Rehabilitation Treatment for Instability
Rehabilitation of Chronic Balance Disorders Using the BrainPort Balance Device
I will be writing back and suggesting that I will be more than willing to try it out for them, for free (ie I wont charge them a cent)Thank you for your interest in BrainPort® balance device.
We have not yet conducted any research with patients suffering from MS. Our clinical research so far has been targeting patients with balance problems due to peripheral or central vestibular dysfunctions.
Please let me know if I can help any further.
Mgr. Sona Walter | Marketing Manager
Wicab Europe | Antwerpsesteenweg 124
2630 Aartselaar | Belgium
P: +421 903 201 399
Terry wrote:I heard one time that there was concern about this type of thing because it might be possible to accidentally wire a brain, for example, to feel pain when there should be none. On the flip-side of that, though, maybe there is a possible pain treatment in this.
Paul Bach-y-Rita wrote:Speaking at home in Madison, Wisconsin, he told me, 'I can connect anything to anything.
In 1959 Pedro, then a 65-year-old widower, had a stroke that paralysed his face and half of his body and left him unable to speak.
'I decided that instead of teaching my father to walk, I was going to teach him first to crawl.
The regime took many hours every day, but gradually Pedro went from crawling to moving on his knees, to standing, to walking.
On a visit to friends in Bogotá, Colombia, he went climbing high in the mountains. At 9,000 feet he had a heart attack and died shortly after. He was 72.
before brain scans, post-mortems were routine
spread out on the table, were slices of my father's brain on slides
Bach-y-Rita saw that his father's seven-year-old lesion was mainly in the brain stem - the part of the brain closest to the spinal cord - and that other major brain centres in the cortex that control movement had been destroyed by the stroke as well. Ninety-seven per cent of the nerves that run from the cerebral cortex to the spine were destroyed - catastrophic damage that had caused his paralysis.
Traditional rehabilitation exercises typically ended after a few weeks when a patient stopped improving, or 'plateaued'. But Bach-y-Rita, based on his knowledge of nerve growth, began to argue that these learning plateaus were temporary - part of a plasticity-based learning cycle in which stages of learning are followed by periods of consolidation. Though there was no apparent progress in the consolidation stage, biological changes were happening internally, as new skills became more automatic and refined.
Extracted from 'The Brain That Changes Itself', by Norman Doidge (Penguin), published on August 12 and available for £9.99 from Telegraph Books (0870-428 4112; books.telegraph.co.uk)
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