Dynamic balance is the ability to keep steady while standing and moving about. In contrast to static balance (feet stay in one spot), dynamic balance involves moving your feet. Walking is the most common example of dynamic balance - other examples include traversing stairs, curbs, thresholds, etc. Although developed initially to improve static balance, the ADL Balance Trainer is helpful for improving dynamic balance too. The following post will highlight 2 common ways to use the Trainer to improve dynamic balance:
- Go outside the ADL Balance Trainer. Instead of completing Balance Games from inside the Trainer (which is the standard position), ask the patient to work the games by walking around it (as shown in photo). Walking around the Trainer requires the patient to take a few steps one direction, stop, turn, reach, and change direction as they deliver items. Walking and moving in this manner closely mimics the way patients complete activities of daily (ADLs). ADLs such as cooking and cleaning, to name a few, aren't long straight treks, rather a collection of a short steps, turns, reaches, bends, etc. Knowing the value of specificity of training, it is helpful to train dynamic balance the same way it is needed at home.
- Add obstacles. By placing obstacles (curbs, stools, bolsters, foam, rocker boards, etc.) in patient's path, they will have to step over, on or around the obstacles as the move about the Trainer. Adding obstacles increases the level of balance difficulty, e.g., the larger or more unsteady the obstacle the harder it is to keep balance - just like American Ninja Warrior. Use caution and grade the balance intensity to an appropriate level for your patients. The goal is challenge the patient, not to frustrate them or place them in harm's way.
Walking is a popular goal for patients in sub-acute rehab settings (IPR, SNF, LTAC, etc.). Use the above tips to get the most out of the ADL Balance Trainer for improving gait and preparing your patients to return home safely.