Frequently Asked Questions For Patients

What is BalanceWear®?

BalanceWear is an innovative, non-invasive, patented torso-stabilizing device indicated for patients with mobility difficulties associated with loss of postural control and balance. BalanceWear has successfully been applied to patients with a wide variety of neurological, orthopedic, and balance disorders such as:

  • MS
  • Parkinson’s
  • Ataxia
  • Stroke
  • Scoliosis
  • Low back problems
  • Elderly who fall

Each BalanceWear device is an individualized, wearable product that incorporates strategically-placed sensory input in the form of very light weights, the placement of which is determined by a BalanceWear-trained physical or occupational therapist. By wearing of the BalanceWear customized garment, many people have experienced changes in their balance and mobility*. BalanceWear is the invention of Cynthia Gibson-Horn, PT who spent more than ten years in research and development before market release in 2010.

*BalanceWear has been observed to be effective in up to eighty percent (80%) of all patients evaluated by Cynthia Gibson-Horn, PT.

What is BBTW® (Balance-Based Torso-Weighting®)?

Balance-Based Torso-Weighting is a patented assessment and treatment system consisting of an assessment procedure that ultimately results in manufacturing of a personalized and custom BalanceWear product for the patient. A BBTW trained therapist assesses an individual’s balance to determine three dimensional loss of balance of the upper and lower trunk. Once the balance dysfunction(s) are identified, small unobtrusive weights or other sensory input stimuli are strategically placed upon the torso (trunk) as indicated by the Assessment Method to correct balance dysfunction(s).

Once BalanceWear is applied the majority of people note improved mobility, balance and confidence. – (back to top)

Is there scientific research demonstrating the validity of BalanceWear?

Yes. Please go to our Publications, Presentations, Grants and Research page to review currently published peer reviewed research and scientific publications. – (back to top)

Are there any TV news or other broadcasts segments featuring BalanceWear?

Yes. Click here to see an ABC News Segment and click here to see an Everyday Health News Segment narrated by Sanjay Gupta, MD. – (back to top)

Where can I be evaluated to see if BalanceWear will help me?

BalanceWear is currently available in the United States through a growing network of BalanceWear-trained therapists. Specialized training in our proprietary testing and application techniques is required for physical therapists and other healthcare providers prior to providing BalanceWear to patients. The number and location of trained BalanceWear therapists is constantly expanding.

See below map and list for most current information. You may also be seen by special appointment in the San Francisco area by the inventor, Cynthia Gibson-Horn, PT as her training schedule permits.

For personalized assistance in scheduling your BalanceWear evaluation appointment at a center convenient for you, please call 888.330.2289.

There is very strong demand for BalanceWear in the USA; we currently plan to expand to major international markets by mid 2014.

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Will BalanceWear help my specific balance problem?

The BalanceWear® assessment is conducted by a BBTW-trained professional prior to deciding whether a BalanceWear garment should be prescribed or purchased. During the assessment, you will be able to decide for yourself whether you feel effects from BalanceWear on your balance and mobility. No one is required to purchase a BalanceWear garment after the assessment. The decision is based on the functional improvements experienced by the patient during the assessment before moving forward to obtain a customized BalanceWear garment.

In the research and clinical work with hundreds of patients, BalanceWear has been observed to improve balance. Improvements have ranged from minor to extraordinary. In addition to balance changes, many people experience improvement in coordination and walking, among other things including vision and hand writing improvements. Each person is unique and will experience the BBTW technology differently. Our company policy requires that no BalanceWear product may be ordered for a patient without first documenting the improvements made during the assessment. No money is to be spent, whether it is precious Medicare funds, private insurance reimbursements, or your personal funds, without first having demonstrated success in balance improvement. Your first step to see if this patented technology can help you is to have a BalanceWear® assessment from one of our trained therapists.

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What imbalance conditions will not be helped by BalanceWear?

Individuals with significant leg spasticity or very weak hips often do not experience walking improvements. Drop foot is typically not helped.

In cases where a patient is imbalanced in all directions and the BBTW protocol does not make an improvement when the strategic weights are applied, patients in this condition may not be helped. – (back to top)

How often should I wear my BalanceWear?

BalanceWear should be worn everyday. Your BBTW-trained professional will guide your activity to identify the amount of time to wear BalanceWear. Frail and elderly people may start only wearing BalanceWear for several brief periods of time until their body can acclimate to BalanceWear. Whereas, other patients who experience improvment, and can tolerate the wear time, will wear it all day. If you feel better, walk with better coordination and have the capacity, we recommend wearing it most of the day especially when you are moving. When BalanceWear is applied and movement improves a patient’s coordination and walking ability, we want to encourage new neural patterns in order to change the existing neural patterns. It takes millions of repetitions for the brain to make changes. Through daily wearing, your body may make these positive changes. Think about wanting to become a great concert pianist or an expert pitcher. There is no shortcut to achieving excellence. It requires countless hours of practice. BalanceWear makes this process much easier for you – all you need to do is wear it and BalanceWear will take care of the rest! With guidance of a therapist to increase your ability and continue to challenge your system, we hope you will attain the best possible outcome.

What should I tell airline personnel when traveling?

BalanceWear is an FDA Class 1 medical device balance vest utilizing small weights that enable immediate dynamic trunk stabilization. The technology of the BW300 and OW200 works by strategically positioning small weights inside of the vest. The weights are made from a flexible silicone and stainless steel powder. The position of these weights should not be moved, nor should the weights be removed as this will greatly degrade the effectiveness of the device. For more infomation on these medical devices travel personnel can be refered to the product information section on the BalanceWear website. – (back to top)

What happens if BalanceWear appears to stop working?

Please contact your treating therapist immediately to have the weights checked. Due to laundering or for some other reason, the precise placement of your weights may have changed. It is recommended that you stop wearing your BalanceWear garment for 2-3 days prior to the reassessment to make sure any “Carry-Over” (see below) from wearing BalanceWear is gone. – (back to top)

What does “Carry-Over” mean?

Many patients experience a feeling like they are still wearing BalanceWear for varying periods of time, typically 1 to 4 hours, after BalanceWear is removed. If you feel your balance is becoming compromised, replace BalanceWear immediately. – (back to top)

Can my body learn from BalanceWear?

Many patients report that they are better functionally after wearing BalanceWear for several days, weeks or months. Everybody experiences their own BalanceWear story. Some people do not return to their prior balance status but are maintained where they are and do not regress. – (back to top)

Do insurance carriers provide reimbursement for BalanceWear?

The BalanceWear Model OW200 LSO (Lumbar Sacral Orthotic) has a Medicare insurance reimbursement code of L0631 and may be covered by insurance if you meet the orthopedic requirements for an LSO, have a prescription from your doctor with the appropriate orthopedic diagnosis, and have an insurance policy that covers an LSO. Please check with your insurance company to see how much they will pay or reimburse. BalanceWear Model BW300 currently does not have insurance coverage. Please contact your insurance carrier to determine if they will pay for an EO700 miscellaneous item with a Letter of Medical Necessity. The more carriers are queried about BalanceWear, it may become a covered item especially if you are at less risk of falling, thanks to BalanceWear. – (back to top)

Is a medical prescription required for purchasing BalanceWear?

The BBTW trained therapist will need a prescription for evaluation and treatment. After your assessment, if it is indicated and you decide to move forward to obtain your own BalanceWear, you will need another prescription for the appropriate BalanceWear model. The BW300 prescription should list your diagnosis (MS, Parkinson’s, Ataxia, etc.) and list the BalanceWear BW300 to treat balance. The OW200 LSO prescription requires the primary orthopedic diagnosis that the LSO is correcting. – (back to top)

What is the price of BalanceWear? (payment options)

Please contact your Certified BalanceWear® therapist in your local community to determine the price for the correct BalanceWear® product model for your individual needs.

For patients with MS who have no insurance and no ability to pay otherwise, funds may be available from the MS Foundation due to a grant that was provided by grateful patients and benefactors. Please check with your local MS Society Chapter to see if they have any funding available for you. Currently we do not know of other Foundations that provide assistance. Please click link for details and application forms. – (back to top)

How do I purchase BalanceWear?

Call us at 888.330.2289 – our staff will coordinate an appointment with the closest BalanceWear therapist to where you live or if you prefer, arrange for you to be seen by Cynthia Gibson-Horn, PT in San Francisco, CA.

BalanceWear is only available from our trained therapists and trained medical professionals. It is not available via any other source (including the internet or any retail store) due to the patient- specific, custom-made nature of BalanceWear. Please call us at 888.330.2289 and we will be happy to help you. – (back to top)

How do I clean and maintain my BalanceWear?

Hand launder, first having VERY CAREFULLY marked the EXACT location of the weights or other sensory elements in your BalanceWear garment with a light colored permanent marking pen available at your local office supply store. This is EXTREMELY important! Hand wash in cold water with mild detergent, and air dry only. Care instructions are included with each device. – (back to top)