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Balance Retraining: Assessment of Sensory Systems

presented by Laurie Swan

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Balance impairments in the elderly population are common, and therapists are key members of the health care team that have the critical skills for accurate assessment of systems that contribute to balance. This course reviews the systems that contribute to maintenance of balance, with a focus on assessment of the somatosensory, visual, and vestibular systems, as well as the integration of these three sensory systems in the central nervous system.

Meet Your Instructor

  • Laurie Swan, PhD, DPT, PT, CEEAA

    Laurie Swan, PhD, DPT, PT, CEEAA, is recognized nationally for providing high quality continuing education courses that focus on vestibular rehabilitation, balance training, and fall prevention in the elderly. Laurie received her Doctor of Physical Therapy degree from the University of Puget Sound, as well as a PhD in Applied Experimental Psychology from Central Michigan University. She has experience as an academic faculty member teaching neurologic and geriatric courses in physical therapy programs in Michigan and California. More recently, she has gained expertise in marketing and management in the corporate sector by establishing and managing a fall prevention program for the elderly in Pierce County, Washington. Laurie has worked closely with the Washington Department of Health, to disseminate a fall prevention program called “Stay Active & Independent for Life” (SAIL) in the public health sector and this program is now recognized as one of the leading evidence-based programs in the country. Laurie has several publications in peer-reviewed journals, and has presented at national and international conferences. Laurie has completed the competency-based course in vestibular rehabilitation at Emory University, as well as the vestibular function and test interpretation course. She is recognized as a "Certified Exercise Expert for Aging Adults" through the Geriatrics Section of the American Physical Therapy Association. Laurie received the Award for Clinical Excellence from the Physical Therapy Association of Washington (PTWA) in 2014.

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Chapters & Learning Objectives

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  1. Assessment of Primary Sensory Systems:  Part A

    1. Assessment of Primary Sensory Systems: Part A

    This chapter introduces “balance” as a construct that includes a number of characteristics and attributes. The participant will learn two assessments that identify whether the patient has somatosensation that can be used to maintain balance.

  2. Assessment of Primary Sensory Systems:  Part B

    2. Assessment of Primary Sensory Systems: Part B

    Dr. Swan introduces focal and ambient vision, how each of these visual systems contributes to balance, and how to assess them. The participant will learn how the vestibular system contributes to balance. Dr. Swan demonstrates how to conduct a bedside oculomotor exam.

  3. Assessment of Sensory Weighting

    3. Assessment of Sensory Weighting

    The participant is introduced to sensory weighting. Dr. Swan demonstrates how to perform the Clinical Test for Sensory Interaction on Balance (also known as “Foam and Dome”). She describes the role of the somatosensory, visual, and vestibular systems in each one of the six conditions.