TRUMBULL, Conn. (WTNH) — For those who have a tough time walking or sitting straight up, correcting balance could be as simple as putting on a weighted vest, a balance vest customized for specific needs.
Ray Charpentier struggles with walking, even with the help of a cane, after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis four years ago. But he traded in the cane for a specialized vest and now walks at a much quicker pace.
“I stand up straighter,” said Charpentier. “I have a better sense of balance, like my mind feels more comfortable.”
The weighted vest, created by a therapist in California, corrects all kinds of balance issues.
“Balance Wear is a device that provides sensory imprint through light weights, which then provides optimal balance to the body,” said Anne Wolf, the only therapist in Connecticut certified to evaluate patients for their customized vest.
“We make a prescription for your balance when you come for the assessment,” she continued. “It’s kind of like getting a prescription for glasses.”
Each one has sand weights, attached by Velcro, placed snug to the body near the spine.
“It’s a little bit of weight, but not much,” Charpentier said. The vest adds a pound and a quarter to his body.
“It’s something you will pretty much wear all the time and you get the benefit when it’s on you,” Wolf said. “If someone were to the point of a wheelchair, it wouldn’t allow them to walk, but if they had difficulty holding their torso up, it would allow for that.”
Life is good for Charpentier, who recently walked for three-and-a-half hours in a 5K obstacle race in Boston. His doctors are monitoring his success since putting on the vest.
“The biggest thing was the walking test,” Charpentier said. “I improved walking 50 feet by 10 seconds with the cane. And with the vest, I lowered my time by 10 seconds.”
People with balance problems, including those dealing with aging and Parkinson’s, can benefit from wearing the vest.
The Balance Wear vest is covered by Medicare and Medicaid as well as most insurance companies.
For more information, click here or e-mail Anne Wolf at AnneWolf75@gmail.com.