Skin sensory information from the dorsum of the foot and ankle is necessary for kinesthesia at the ankle joint

Neurosci Lett. 2010 Nov 12;485(1):6-10. doi: 10.1016/j.neulet.2010.08.033. Epub 2010 Sep 15.


Previous research has shown that skin is capable of providing kinesthetic cues at particular joints but we are unsure how these cues are used by the central nervous system. The current study attempted to identify the role of skin on the dorsum of the ankle during a joint matching task. A 30cm patch of skin was anesthetized and matching accuracy in a passive joint matching task was compared before and after skin anesthetization. Goniometers were used to measure ankle angular displacement. Four target angles were used in the matching task, 7° of dorsiflexion, 7°, 14° and 21° of plantarflexion. We hypothesized that, based on the location of skin anesthetized, only the plantarflexion matching tasks would be affected. Absolute error (accuracy) increased significantly for all angles when the skin was anesthetized. Directional error indicated that overall subjects tended to undershoot the target angles, significantly more so for 21° of plantarflexion when the skin was anesthetized. Following anesthetization, variable error (measure of task difficulty) increased significantly at 7° of dorsiflexion and 21° of plantarflexion. These results indicate that the subjects were less accurate and more variable when skin sensation was reduced suggesting that skin information plays an important role in kinesthesia at the ankle.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Ankle / physiology*
  • Ankle Joint / physiology*
  • Female
  • Foot / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Kinesthesis / physiology*
  • Male
  • Movement
  • Proprioception / physiology*
  • Skin Physiological Phenomena*
  • Young Adult