We caught up with one of the long-term BalanceBelt users, Mrs Zeegers, to find out what impact the BalanceBelt has had on her life.
What was your diagnosis?
I’ve lost function in both my balance organs, on the right side because of an acoustic neuroma (a tumour) and on the left side, the balance organ has always been non-functional. I’ve also lost my hearing on the right side as a result of the Gamma Knife radiosurgery for the tumour. This prevents me from sensing which direction sounds are coming from.
How did this diagnosis affect your life?
I lost my independence completely: for a year, I was reliant on my husband to go anywhere or do anything.
How long have you had the BalanceBelt?
I am one of the earliest users, I’ve been using the BalanceBelt for 6 years now, since 2014. I started with the old prototype and, since 2019, I’ve been using the new, lighter version developed by Elitac Wearables.
What does the BalanceBelt mean to you?
Most importantly, it has given me back my independence: I am much less reliant on others. And it helps me enjoy activities again that had become difficult or impossible due to my balance disorder, like visiting friends and shopping, but also my great passion, travelling.
“The BalanceBelt has given me back my independence: I am much less reliant on others.”
Together with my husband, I’ve been fortunate enough to make some wonderful journeys over the years: to Greenland, Iceland, Norway, we rode dogsleds in Lapland and saw penguins in Antarctica, it was fantastic! But after my diagnosis it looked as if our travelling days were over and our world had suddenly become a lot smaller.
So, you can imagine how happy I was to realise that with the BalanceBelt I could still travel. It is true, I’ve needed to make a few adjustments, such as requiring extra assistance at the airport and a medical certificate for the security checks (explaining that the BalanceBelt is not a dangerous device), but it is still possible!
For example, we visited Mallorca with our children last year. And a few years ago, I even travelled to Alaska with the BalanceBelt, and walked among the Kodiak Bears (the largest breed of grizzly bears) with a friend. Without the BalanceBelt, this would never have been possible!
“I use the BalanceBelt when I go out: to walk, do groceries, visit family and friends. And when family and friends come to visit me”
When do you use the BalanceBelt?
When I go out, to walk, do groceries, visit family and friends. And when family and friends come to visit me. These situations can often be a bit hectic as you need your concentration everywhere at once: serving coffee, talking and listening, and the BalanceBelt is invaluable in those situations as well.
Other than that – not quite as enjoyable, but necessary nonetheless – when I’m doing chores around the house, such as ironing, changing the bedding, cooking and so on.
Would you recommend the BalanceBelt to someone with a balance disorder?
Yes, absolutely, I would recommend the BalanceBelt to anyone who suffers from a balance disorder.
Could you describe the difference between walking with or without the BalanceBelt?
Of course I can only speak for myself, but it feels as if the connection between my brain and my body has been severed. It’s like my body wants to go to the right and my brain to the left, and that is exhausting.
With the BalanceBelt I still need to concentrate, but much less. This means I tire less quickly and feel more confident when I’m moving around. Nowadays, I never leave the house without the BalanceBelt.
Many thanks for sharing your experiences with us!
* Past clinical trials have shown a significant improvement in the quality of life for people suffering from severe Bilateral Vestibular Loss (BVL). The belt may benefit patients suffering from other balance disorders, but there is no clinical evidence for this yet. Additional clinical trials are necessary to investigate the extent to which the belt can aid patients suffering from other types of balance disorders.
Read more about Mr Van Tijen’s experiences with the BalanceBelt here.