Effects of hypothermic anesthesia of the feet on vibration-induced body sway and adaptation

J Vestib Res. 2003;13(1):39-52.


The aim of this study was to investigate the significance of information from the plantar cutaneous mechanoreceptors in postural control and whether postural control could compensate for reduced cutaneous information by adaptation. Sixteen healthy subjects were tested with eyes open or eyes closed with hypothermic and normal feet temperature during posturography where body sway was induced by vibratory proprioceptive stimulation towards both calf muscles. The hypothermic anesthesia was obtained by cooling the subject's feet in ice water for 20 minutes. Body movements were evaluated by analyzing the anteroposterior and lateral torques induced towards the supporting surface by a force platform during the posturography tests. The reduction of cutaneous sensor information from the mechanoreceptors of the feet significantly increased the vibration-induced torque variance mainly in the anteroposterior direction. However, the effects of disturbed mechanoreceptors information was rapidly compensated for through postural adaptation and torque variance was in level with that without anesthesia within 50 to 100 seconds of stimulation, both when standing with eyes open and eyes closed. Our findings suggest that somatosensory input from mechanoreceptors in the foot soles contribute significantly in maintaining postural control, but the sensory loss could be compensated for.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological*
  • Adult
  • Anesthesia* / methods
  • Female
  • Foot / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Hypothermia, Induced*
  • Leg
  • Male
  • Mechanoreceptors / physiology
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology
  • Posture / physiology*
  • Proprioception / physiology
  • Skin / innervation
  • Torque
  • Vibration*