In May, CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta profiled Steve Ofca, a father living with MS. Ofca was finding it difficult to walk or sit without having balance issues. Even worse, when he attempted to sit, he ran the risk of falling. His biggest challenge, however, was easing his daughter’s insecurity as she watched him suffer from his unsteadiness.
Ofca’s use of the BalanceWear stabilizing garment has been profound and provided him with confidence. Dr. Gupta profiles Ofca’s story and the BalanceWear stabilizing garment he uses. It was fitted by physical therapist, Dr. Stephen Kanter with empowering results.
A Weighted Vest May Improve Balance
Small weights sewn into a customized vest seem to restore stability for people with multiple sclerosis.
By Dr. Sanjay Gupta
Sanjay Gupta, MD, Everyday Health: It’s tough being the father of a teenage daughter. The little girl who once adored you now seems to be embarrassed by you. It’s even tougher if you have a disability that affects how you walk and how you talk.
A few years ago, Steve Ofca [who has multiple sclerosis] could not have walked down the street with his daughter Alex.
Dr. Stephen Kanter, physical therapist, International Multiple Sclerosis Management Practice in New York City: Go ahead and sit back down.
Dr. Gupta: He couldn’t do this, either. Sitting down meant basically falling down. But he found a surprising way to reduce those symptoms, and it was as easy as slipping into a shirt.
His physical therapist, Dr. Stephen Kanter, demonstrates what he used to do.
Dr. Kanter: This type of sitting is indicative of a loss of control, loss of coordination, and loss of balance.
Dr. Gupta: The transformation from this … to this, all thanks to this simple vest.
Steve Ofca: This is my BalanceWear vest, and it’s calibrated to meet my specific needs. And Dr. Kanter gave me weights up on my left shoulder and also on my right side.
Dr. Kanter: And now I’m going to push you around a little bit. I’m not going to let you fall.
Dr. Gupta: Those carefully placed weights somehow restore his stability.
Steve Ofca: I can’t explain. All I know is that it works. It makes my life, the quality of my life, so much better.
Dr. Gupta: Dr. Kanter can’t entirely explain it either.
Dr. Kanter: You would think it shouldn’t work. But it wasn’t about weighting them in the opposite direction they were falling. It was a matter of putting a weight on them to change the way their body perceived being in space.
It sounds a little bit hocus-pocus, and if I hadn’t seen what I’ve seen, I wouldn’t believe it worked, either.
Dr. Gupta: Studies have backed up that it works, but not how it works. There’s no cure for MS, but there are a lot more ways to manage the symptoms than there were even a decade ago when Steve was diagnosed. And even more are in the pipeline.
With Everyday Health, I’m Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Be well.
That is the end of the video transcript.
Here are some facts about Dr. Sanjay Gupta.
Who is Dr. Sanjay Gupta?
Dr. Sanjay Gupta is a practicing neurosurgeon and associate chief of neurosurgery at Grady Memorial Hospital and an assistant professor at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta. He is a columnist for Time magazine, a contributor to CBS News, and a chief medical correspondent at CNN. Dr. Gupta has been working with Everyday Health to produce Health Matters With Dr. Sanjay Gupta since 2013.
Before joining CNN in 2001, Dr. Gupta was a neurosurgeon at the University of Tennessee’s Semmes-Murphey clinic, and before that at the University of Michigan Medical Center. He became a partner in the Great Lakes Brain and Spine Institute in 2000. In 1997, he was chosen as a White House Fellow, serving as special advisor to First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton. (Source: Everyday Health)