New technology can help cure balance problems - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

9/27/09

New technology can help cure balance problems

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By Kristin Beerman | email

Edited by Jon Bush | email 

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - More than 40% of Americans have a balance problem that is serious enough to need medical attention.  The reason could be anything from an ear infection to a drop in blood pressure, to a side effect of medication.   A new technology, developed by NASA to check an astronaut's equilibrium, called equitest, is helping nail down the culprit so you can treat it.  These high tech sensors can measure a person's ability to keep their balance.

"Now we can actually breakdown and check the sensory components of balance. We can check the reactive components, like what would happen if someone slipped or someone shoved you?" said Sue Gordon, a physical therapist.  "Certain eye movements will tell us whether there's a problem coming from the brain or from the ear."

In a separate test, Erin wore special magnifying goggles and in this case, the jerking movements revealed that she has a common form of vertigo, where tiny particles that normally float through the inner ear are instead trapped in an area that senses motion.  So now, doctors can treat those floaters by positioning the head to try to move the debris in the ear.

"You actually try to roll it through the canal to get it back where, where it used to be," said Gordon.

And thanks to space-age technology, Erin's feet are firmly back on the ground again.  Erin's vertigo was triggered by a skate board accident, but doctors say the same thing can happen from a severe cold or just aging.  If you'd like to read more about balance problems, please visit the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, http://www.nidcd.nih.gov or the Vestibular Disorders Association, http://www.vestibular.org.

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