Postural control in blind individuals: A systematic review

Gait Posture. 2017 Sep:57:161-167. doi: 10.1016/j.gaitpost.2017.06.008. Epub 2017 Jun 12.


Postural control (PC) requires the interaction of the three sensory systems for a good maintenance of the balance, and in blind people, lack of visual input can harm your PC. Thus the objective is to perform a literature review concerning role of sight in the maintenance of PC and the adaptation of brain structures when vision is absent. Studies were searched from Pubmed, and EMBASE that included individuals with congenital blindness. Articles studying person with acquired blindness or low vision was excluded from this review. 26 out of 322 articles were selected for review, and we found that 1) blind individuals exhibit PC deficits and that is compensated by the intensification of the remaining systems; 2) Neuroplastic adaptation occurs throughout the entire cerebral cortex; and 3) Sensorimotor stimulation and transcranial direct current stimulation seem to be a rehabilitation strategy. According to this review, the findings suggest that improved remaining sensations in the presence of adaptations and neuroplasticity, does not translate into better postural control performance. Regarding rehabilitation strategies, more studies are needed to show which therapeutic modality best contributes to postural control.

Keywords: Neuroplasticity; Postural control; Rehabilitation; Visual impairment.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological / physiology*
  • Blindness / physiopathology*
  • Blindness / rehabilitation
  • Exercise Therapy / methods*
  • Humans
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology*
  • Postural Balance / physiology*
  • Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation