Using the Balance Tracking System to Test the Health of Your Nervous System - Restoration Healthcare Blog

Using the Balance Tracking System to Test the Health of Your Nervous System

By: Restoration Healthcare

Whenever you have a physical examination, your doctor is likely to perform a couple rudimentary tests to assess nerve function. You’re probably familiar with them. In one test, your doctor or a physician assistant taps just below your kneecap with a small rubber mallet to check your reflexes. This is a basic neurological test to make sure the lines of communication between your brain and the rest of your body are working properly.

Ideally, your thigh muscles contract immediately, causing your leg to kick out and then quickly relax. If your muscles are slow to contract or relax (or don’t respond at all), this could be a sign of a neurological condition that requires closer examination.

Another common neurological test involves examining your eyes. Your doctor may shine a light into your eyes to see whether your pupils are the same size and respond to the light normally. If one pupil is smaller than the other or if they don’t get smaller in response to the light, that could be a sign of a neurological condition. Your doctor may also hold up an object in front of you and tell you to follow the object with your eyes, which is another way to make sure the brain-nerve-eye circuit is healthy.

Here at Restoration Healthcare, we often use a more sophisticated tool for testing the health and function of the nervous system. It’s called Balance Tracking System (or BTrackStm for short), and we employ this test because we believe your nervous system deserves more than just a tap on the knee or the shine of a light into your eyes to gauge its stability.

The Purpose of Balance Track Testing

Your nervous system is responsible for all of your conscious and subconscious thoughts and actions, and it works tirelessly behind the scenes to regulate vital bodily functions, including breathing, heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature, and digestion. It even coordinates your body’s detox and healing processes. As you might imagine, nervous system dysfunction can negatively impact your health, but certain illnesses and dysfunctions in other parts of the body can impact the health and function of your nervous system as well.

A range of issues can negatively impact the nervous system, including tumor, stroke, diabetes, head trauma, toxins, viral infections, metabolic disorders, nutritional deficiencies, immune system disorders, inflammation, and certain medications. Severe nervous system dysfunction is also related to several neurodegenerative diseases, including the following:

  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
  • Friedrich’s ataxia
  • Huntington’s disease
  • Lewy body disease
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Spinal muscular atrophy

In many cases, nerve damage involves the myelin sheath — the layers of tissue that wrap around the nerves. The myelin sheath acts as insulation — much like the insulation that surrounds and protects an electrical wire. When this insulation gets damaged, nerves do not carry signals (electrical impulses) with the same speed and accuracy as they normally do.

BTrackS enables us to evaluate how effectively the neurological communications network is carrying signals.

Why Test Balance?

The human body maintains balance through the coordination of several complex systems:

  • The vestibular system: The part of the inner ear devoted to maintaining balance.
  • Vision: The eyes, which feed the brain additional information about the body and its surroundings.
  • The somatosensory systems: The body and sense of touch that feed the brain information about the body’s movement and stability.
  • Proprioceptive system: Proprioception is the process by which the body varies muscle contractions in immediate response to input from other body systems. It is sometimes referred to as the “sixth sense.”
  • The central nervous system (CNS): The brain and spinal cord, which receive and process input from all parts of the body and deliver information to the rest of the body in order to maintain balance, as well as perform other functions.

By evaluating balance, we gain insight into how well these systems are working, alone and together. If your ability to maintain balance is impaired, something within these five systems or their coordination may not be functioning properly. Balance tracking can often perceive impairments before you’d even notice anything wrong.

What to Expect

Testing with BTrackS is fast, easy, and pain-free. You simply stand on a small platform with your eyes closed, and one of our medical assistants controls the platform from a nearby computer, which gathers feedback collected from the platform. During the test, you’ll be instructed to move your head or body in certain ways, such as “lean forward” and “lean back.”

The Balance Track system provides a wealth of diagnostic data, including the following:

  • Balance and fall risk assessment: A general balance assessment providing detailed postural sway analysis compared to more than 20,000 norms in order to calculate a percentile ranking and fall risk assessment of low, moderate, or high.
  • Weight distribution: A determination of weight distribution percentages to determine whether your posture is properly aligned left/right and forward/back.
  • Clinical test of sensory integration and balance (CTSIB): This measure is used to assess how the main three sensory feedback systems for balance (proprioception, vision, vestibular) function relative to one another. Results are compared to normative data to provide percentile rankings.
  • Limits of stability: This tells us how far you can lean forward, back, left, and right without falling over.
  • Cervical challenge test: This test measures postural sway with your head in 11 different positions. The different positions expose specific vestibular configurations.

Our BTrackS software creates a detailed report for each test. The results help to guide the next steps in our diagnostic process, enabling us to rule out certain conditions and focus on other possibilities as part of your plan of care. Follow-up testing enables us to monitor the effectiveness of treatments and make adjustments as health improves.

Here at Restoration Healthcare, we practice integrative and functional medicine. Our approach is to test first to identify, then treat the underlying cause(s) of illness instead of merely suppressing symptoms with medication.

If you are not feeling your best and your health concerns are not being addressed to your satisfaction, we encourage you to make an appointment for a thorough examination. By conducting a thorough physical examination, carefully evaluating your patient and family history, and performing targeted testing, such as BTrackS testing, we can identify what is standing in the way of your optimum health and fitness and get you on the path to recovery.

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Disclaimer: The information in this blog post about nervous system testing is provided for general informational purposes only and may not reflect current medical thinking or practices. No information contained in this post should be construed as medical advice from the medical staff at Restoration Healthcare, Inc., nor is this post intended to be a substitute for medical counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting on the basis of any information included in, or accessible through, this post without seeking the appropriate medical advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a licensed medical professional in the recipient’s state, country or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.

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