The human brain is capable of great accomplishments. One of its most notable abilities is that our brain is able to compensate for the partial or even complete failure of the vestibular organ. This ability is called central vestibular compensation.

The better our brain learns to process only correct information and to ignore false sensory impressions, which could be evoked by diseases of the vestibular organ, the better our balance works. Balance training can specifically support these compensation processes.

This is where EQUIFit comes into play: biofeedback opens up conscious access to the otherwise unconscious combination of balance and depth perception for the user. With this complex sensory perception, also referred to as the proprioceptive system, our body transmits the position and movement of our limbs to the brain. One everyday example is that we know the position of our feet even under the table top where we cannot see them.

EQUIFit captures the information that is otherwise captured by our inner ear through its position directly on the head: the relative position of the head and its movements. If the user deviates from the equilibrium position, EQUIFit provides them with acoustic feedback via surround sound and they can thus bring themselves back into equilibrium. Through regular training, these other senses involved in balance now learn to determine this position and vertigo disappears.

What makes balance training with EQUIFit paqrticularly special?

Existing training programmes can basically be divided into physiotherapeutic and biofeedback approaches. The former have the disadvantage that balance regulation can be trained only in a very unspecific manner. The biofeedback processes available so far have some disadvantages:

  • They are not suitable for home use because of the high cost of several thousand euros.
  • The training must be done with open eyes (for example, training on a so-called posturography plate), which significantly reduces the effect.
  • Non-physiological measuring points are used: a system, e.g. worn on a belt, does not capture the sensory impressions missing in the first place from the failure of the vestibular organ. These are much harder to interpret for our brains, and training is less effective.
  • Non-physiological feedback stimuli are used meaning that feedback stimuli are used that are not naturally related to balance. Again, these are much harder for our brains to interpret meaningfully, making the training less effective.

EQUIFit is the first method that combines the advantages of biofeedback with physiological measurement points and acoustic feedback:

  • Hearing is naturally closely linked to the balance system and has physiological interfaces. This makes acoustic feedback easy for our brain to interpret.
  • The acoustic feedback is directly related to the fall direction. As a result, immediate reflexes can be trained, meaning that patients learn to react adequately and automatically again with regular exercise.
  • The training with open and closed eyes protects against optical compensation. Although the eyes are also involved in healthy people’s balance, we still do not experience vertigo immediately with our eyes closed, for example when washing our hair. If the proportion of our eyes in the balance is too large, even slightly limited visibility can trigger vertigo attacks.
  • In addition, EQUIFit is also affordable for end users, allowing for regular home-based training.
Sources

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Allum, JHJ; Horlings, CGC; Honegger, F; Tang, KS; Kessler, P (2009). Movement strategies after vestibular loss: aiding these with prosthetic feedback. In Hören und Gleichgewicht im Blick des geselsschaftlichen Wandels (ed Plinkert PK, Klingmann C) Springer-Verlag: 173-82

Basta, D; Ernst, A et al. (2011). Efficacy of a Vibrotactile NeurofeedbacTraining in Stance and Gait Conditions for the Treatment of Balance Deficits: A Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Multicenter Study, Otology & Neurotology Inc., Otology & Neurotology, 32:1492-1499

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