By Aleisha Theisen, PTA and NBC-HWC
At FYZICAL-Forest Grove, we are here to help you bring balance back into your life. For the first three months of 2024, we’re going to show you some of the unique ways we specialize in doing just that. Today, we want to tell you about an important piece of physical therapy equipment we use to help patients improve their walking and standing balance.
On any given day at FYZICAL-Forest Grove, you might see a physical therapist guiding a balance patient in a harness through obstacles, walking across uneven surfaces, stepping over hurdles, dancing, jumping, and doing many other things the patient might have not thought they could do. The harness is part of the Solo Step Overhead Track System that owner Aaron Frye implemented in the clinic several years ago. Aaron says when patients with balance and gait difficulties use the overhead track system as part of balance therapy at FYZICAL-Forest Grove, “you reach outcomes you couldn’t otherwise.”
FYZICAL-Forest Grove is unique in that it offers this valuable system that isn’t available at many other PT clinics.
Balance challenges know no age limits, and the safety harnesses come in a range of sizes to accommodate children and adults. Aaron says they are reminiscent of a harness you might wear rock climbing or on a zipline. Patients can sit in the harness and it won’t let them fall.
Building Confidence with Every Step
Physical therapy extends beyond the physical realm; it addresses the emotional and psychological aspects of recovery as well. The Solo-Step Overhead Track System is a special tool that excels in breaking down mental barriers associated with mobility challenges because it reassures the patient they are safe so they can comfortably challenge themselves with the physical therapist’s guidance.
Walking confidently is a basic yet vital aspect of daily life. For individuals recovering from injuries or dealing with mobility challenges, the fear of falling can be a significant obstacle. With the Solo-Step system, individuals can face their fears head-on in a controlled environment. The system acts as a guardian angel, providing a secure overhead support system that allows individuals to regain their stride without the fear of stumbling. This encourages patients to explore their limits without the risk of injury.
As patients experience the support of the harness and track, along with the skilled instruction of their PT, they gradually build trust in their ability to move safely, eroding the psychological barriers that may impede their progress. This safety net not only facilitates a more robust rehabilitation process but also instills confidence in patients, encouraging them to push their boundaries. That could eventually include walking with a cane instead of a walker or walking without any assistive device as their balance improves, Aaron says.
The physical therapist can also challenge patients’ balance reactions safely in the system and have them walk through courses that improve their ability to navigate challenging terrain in the community. As a result of this type of training, Aaron says their fall risk is greatly reduced because you are able to test it at this higher level of difficulty.
Beyond Balance: Retraining Proper Gait
Balance difficulties sometimes cause individuals to develop abnormal walking patterns, but the adjustable resistance in the harness allows therapists to gradually increase the challenge, promoting a step-by-step improvement in balance and gait, increasing the patient’s walking speed and improving their cadence. This progressive approach empowers patients to witness their own growth, boosting motivation and commitment to the rehabilitation process.
The Solo-Step Overhead Track System transforms the physical therapy experience into a collaborative journey between the patient and therapist. It facilitates real-time feedback, allowing therapists to make immediate adjustments to the rehabilitation plan based on the patient's performance. This dynamic interaction enhances the overall effectiveness of the rehabilitation process, ensuring that every session contributes meaningfully to the individual's progress.
Do you suffer from balance difficulties? Or perhaps you have a family member who does. Our physical therapists at FYZICAL–Forest Grove are here to help you and your loved ones improve your balance. Want to learn more? Call us for an evaluation at 503-357-1706.
Aleisha Theisen is a physical therapist assistant and a board-certified health and wellness coach.
Disclaimer: This blog is provided for informational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.