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What's the Turn Test?


Photo courtesy of billaday


Brain function is in the news these days.  It’s an exciting field of study to be sure and has been brought about by remarkable advances in technology like functional MRI machines that can see your brain in action or SPECT scans that can take a kind of functional picture of your brain.  But there is a different way of gaining insight into what your brain is up to.  I thought I’d highlight several of the tests we do in our office that reveal a great deal about what your brain is up to.


Have you ever heard of people getting lost in the woods and walking for hours only to find that they are right back where they started from?  These folks probably have a functional weakness on one side of their brain.  We use Mittelmeyer’s test to find that out.  It’s a fun and sometimes shocking test that you can do at home.  Before I describe the test please be safe while you do it.  Stay away from stairs, open pits or furniture you could fall over.  Here’s how you do it.  First, you need to remove visual or auditory cues that will give clues as to where your are.  Stand in the middle of a room, close your eyes and march in place for about 30 seconds.  Open your eyes and see where you ended up.  It’s that simple.  What do the results mean?


The test results are where you ended up.  Did you turn?  Did you move forward?  If you are in a different spot than where you started it means that there is a disconnect between your body and your brain.  For example, if you turned to the left, you may have a weak left brain, particularly your left cerebellum.  Since the left cerebellum is connected to and drives the right pre-frontal cortex (PFC), it may also mean that your right PFC is weak.  This is the part of your brain where your personality tends to live.  So if you turn to the left it may mean that you are not in your right mind!  We use your history and other tests to sort out the significance of this but it is a low tech test that gives us high tech information.


Another fun test you might try at home is the one legged stand test.  It is pretty much what you’d expect, except with your eyes closed.  Obviously, don’t endanger yourself in case you fall.  Close your eyes and try to stand on one leg.  Get someone to time how long you can stand before you start to fall or open your eyes.  Be sure and check how you do on both legs.  You should be able to easily manage 10 seconds.  It’s pretty common, though not normal, to be weaker on one side, often the left.


The bottom line is that there is little point testing something that you can’t fix.  Problems that show up with these tests can usually be fixed and it’s well worth the effort.  Posture and balance are critical for your good health and fun to resolve.


How did you do on these tests?



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