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In late 2015, The Balance Center program received new, state of the art equipment for testing and treating patients with balance disorders. This purchase of the The Bertec Balance Advantage was made possible by generous donations from Dorchester Hospital Foundation.

The Bertec is the most advanced computerized dynamic posturography system on the market. It uses an immersive visual field that reflects a computer generated image  to stimulate the visual system. This is the biggest difference from our previous balance testing equipment. The projected image during testing is circular lines, and this image can be changed during treatment to a checked room, a rock wall or for visual flow, a grocery store aisle. The ability to change the visual background allows for more complete treatment and better recovery.

Along with the visual surround the surface of the Bertec moves, which allows the therapist to test patients’ reaction times, their ability to control posture/balance with ground changes, and function of their vestibular system. During part of the test, the floor is set to move with the patients’ normal body sway, thereby eliminating accurate somatosensory information to be used for balance and targeting a patient’s use of visual and vestibular systems. In other parts of testing, the floor tilts to challenge a posture reaction and slides to measure startle response. All of this information is compared to national norms, which helps to quantify level of involvement and, upon retesting, progress.

Patients are never left alone during testing. The treating therapist is always by their side and they wear a safety harness to prevent any injuries and decrease anxiety related to potential fall. The test session can last 40-60 minutes depending on the rest breaks required by the patient.

Balance is a complex topic. The Bertec makes it easy to explain to the patient why their balance is poor. All of this information generates a complete picture of balance and safety and gives the patient something concrete to work toward.