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. 2018 Feb;60:76-80.
doi: 10.1016/j.gaitpost.2017.11.015. Epub 2017 Nov 14.

The Effect of Augmented Somatosensory Feedback on Standing Postural Sway


The Effect of Augmented Somatosensory Feedback on Standing Postural Sway

Angela Smalley et al. Gait Posture. .


Impaired balance resulting from reduced postural control occurs with aging and various medical conditions. Sensory input for balance control is provided by the visual, vestibular and somatosensory systems. Previous research suggests that increased proprioceptive feedback from various lower extremity devices improves balance. Mixed results have been reported with the use of orthoses such as ankle foot orthoses (AFOs). In this study, 20 healthy subjects wore footplates in their shoes or straps around their lower legs in order to imitate the somatosensory feedback produced by wearing AFOs, but without providing ankle restriction. Subjects' standing balance was assessed using force plates and computerized dynamic posturography (the sensory organization test-SOT) to determine if either the footplates or the lower-leg straps would affect standing balance. The results revealed no significant difference with the use of the footplates, however, wearing the straps resulted in reduced postural sway for conditions when visual cue deprivation was combined with manipulation of somatosensory or vestibular feedback. This effect was more pronounced in participants with the poorest baseline measures of balance. These findings suggest that lower extremity devices, such as AFOs, may augment somatosensory feedback that could improve balance during challenging sensory deprivation conditions, independent of orthotic support at the ankle.

Keywords: Balance; Feedback; Orthosis; Somatosensory; Sway.

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