PT on the Net Research

Blind Client: Training Programs


Question:

Could you send to me information about exercise programs/workout programs for the blind?

Answer:

Working with a blind client is challenging but at the same time very helpful in getting the trainer better at working with clients who are sighted. Closing one’s eyes whether permanently or done consciously adds a multi-sensory environment to your training. You should try to train your clients in a multi-sensory environment anyway. When training a blind client, the primary issue you must concern yourself with is safety. Make sure your client is led through the gym and use many descriptive cues when giving directions. Another helpful hint is to make sure you get permission to use tactile cues (touching) to help guide your client through the first couple of reps in each exercise until they get the pattern. You may have to allow more time for your unsighted clients to learn a new exercise. Outside of that, there are not many differences.

Studies have shown that when a person loses one sense, the other senses become enhanced to take up the slack. For this reason, you may see the advances in their other senses. To have an effective balance training program, we ask the client to close his/her eyes and try to perform the exercise. We have different levels of motor control in our bodies. The brainstem mediated control mechanism will gather sensory information from our visual, vestibular and proprioceptive receptors and send that information to the brainstem. One of the progressions in balance training is to close your eyes. This will make the vestibular and proprioceptive senses heighten to keep one’s ability to balance. The goal of the trainer is to do consistent patterns repetitively to create an unconscious motor pattern. This will help your client become more efficient neuromuscularly and make them more stable in their environment. In this instance, the environment is one without visual sensory input. The client would benefit to enhance his/her vestibular and proprieceptive senses. The trainer may want to concentrate on putting the client in a multi-planar and multi-sensory environment as much as they can. For example, the trainer should have the client move in all planes of motion (i.e., sagittal, frontal and transverse) for all types of movement. The client should also be trained in an unstable environment. One day they should wear shoes, the next day they should not. One time try using a half foam roll or maybe an Airex pad. These types of balance changes will help your client become more stable and secure in his/her environment and may help them cope more effectively with the loss of sight.