Proprioception: where are we now? A commentary on clinical assessment, changes across the life course, functional implications and future interventions

Age Ageing. 2014 May;43(3):313-8. doi: 10.1093/ageing/aft174. Epub 2013 Nov 14.


Proprioception, the sense of where one is in space, is essential for effective interaction with the environment. A lack of or reduction in proprioceptive acuity has been directly correlated with falls and with reduced functional independence in older people. Proprioceptive losses have also been shown to negatively correlate with functional recovery post stroke and play a significant role in other conditions such as Parkinson's disease. However, despite its central importance to many geriatric syndromes, the clinical assessment of proprioception has remained remarkably static. We look at approaches to the clinical assessment of proprioception, changes in proprioception across the life course, functional implications of proprioception in health and disease and the potential for targeted interventions in the future such as joint taping, and proprioception-specific rehabilitation and footwear.

Keywords: ageing; falls; geriatric syndromes; life course; older people; proprioception.

MeSH terms

  • Accidental Falls / prevention & control*
  • Activities of Daily Living*
  • Aged
  • Ataxia* / diagnosis
  • Ataxia* / etiology
  • Ataxia* / rehabilitation
  • Disability Evaluation
  • Forecasting
  • Geriatric Assessment / methods
  • Humans
  • Nervous System Diseases / complications
  • Nervous System Diseases / diagnosis
  • Nervous System Diseases / physiopathology
  • Proprioception*
  • Recovery of Function
  • Rehabilitation / methods
  • Rehabilitation / trends
  • Somatosensory Disorders* / diagnosis
  • Somatosensory Disorders* / etiology
  • Somatosensory Disorders* / physiopathology