29 October 2010
Holographic balance bands: fact or fiction?
RMIT researchers are investigating the efficacy of holographic wristbands.
Researchers Dr Rick Ames, Dr Simon Brice and Dr Brett Jarosz with research participant, Joanna Ngo.
In an Australian-first study, RMIT University researchers are investigating the efficacy of a sporting aid that has become a worldwide phenomenon, the holographic Power Balance wristband.
The team of researchers from the Discipline of Chiropractic in the School of Health Sciences has begun trials to test one of the key claims made by promoters of the Power Balance bands, that the wristband improves balance.
Worn by elite athletes around the world - from AFL's Nick Riewoldt and Brendan Fevola to Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo - the bands have grown in popularity among amateur sportspeople looking to enhance their performance, as well as elderly people and others who struggle with balance problems.
Chief investigator, Dr Simon Brice, said the pilot project was developed in response to clinical experience with chiropractic patients who were seeking advice on the silicone wristbands, which are embedded with two hologram discs.
"Patients with neurological conditions that affect their balance and athletes seeking an extra edge were asking us whether these bands could help them," Dr Brice said.
"We conducted an extensive literature search and found no rigorous, scientific studies had been done to test the claims behind the wristbands in Australia, and possibly the world.
"Our aim is to measure whether there are any postural or balance performance benefits to people using the Power Balance wristband.
"We want to test if it works, to see whether it has a positive impact or a negative one, and assess if there are any differences in its effect across age groups and genders."
Dr Brice is working with Dr Brett Jarosz on the research project, which is supervised by Dr Rick Ames, Senior Lecturer in the School of Health Sciences.
The researchers are recruiting 50 volunteers to be tested on a computerised dynamic posturography device that measures balance and stability.
Each test is performed three times: once with no device, once with a placebo and once with a real wristband. The tests will be repeated in a different order one week from the initial assessment, in a double-blinded protocol.