Study Assesses Balance Training for Stroke Patients

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MIDDLETON - Can a patient who has balance problems actually use the tongue to stand up straight?
Researchers at University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health hope that a balance device that uses nerve fibers on the tongue to transmit information about head and body position to the brain can make a serious difference for patients who have suffered a stroke or a brain injury - both in speed of rehabilitation and quality of life.
UW researchers are pairing with Middleton-based WiCab Inc. to launch a clinical study that will assess the safety and efficacy of training with the BrainPort® balance device.
Developed by Wicab, Inc, the BrainPort balance device uses an accelerometer to provide head and body position information to the brain through a web of electrodes placed on the tongue. Sensitive nerve fibers on the tongue make the transfer of electrical information easy. BrainPort technology has been used to help blind individuals “see” by transmitting visual information through the tongue.
Dr. Jack Sherman, one of the study’s co-principal investigators, was sparked to develop the trial by a positive experience one of his patients had with BrainPort. The man had suffered a traumatic brain injury.
"The patient reported that using the BrainPort helped not only with balance, but other areas in which he had deficits, including sensation, tremor and mental clarity," says Dr. Sherman, an associate clinical professor in the Department of Orthopedic Surgery and Rehabilitation Medicine and senior psychologist with UW Health’s Rehabilitation Clinic. "More importantly, BrainPort gave him hope."

To participate in the study, patients must be 18 years of age or older, have been diagnosed with a stroke or brain injury for at least three months, have ongoing balance problems and be willing to visit the clinic for testing and training.
For additional information regarding study participation, please contact Mary Beth Badke, principal investigator, at UW Hospital at (608) 263-8088 or or Kim Skinner at Wicab, Inc. at (608) 829-4515 or

Date Published: 01/25/2008

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