Visual input: its importance in the control of postural sway

Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 1978 Dec;59(12):586-91.


A new and measurable parameter in the study of static equilibrium is described. Using a minicomputer, the locus of postural sway was measured during 1 minute periods in 144 volunteer subjects, including 105 control subjects and 39 persons with above-knee amputations. It was hypothesized that the above-knee amputee group had lost a relatively predictable degree of proprioception and kinesthetic sense. Vestibular mechanisms were normal and, therefore, constant in both groups. Using a simple arithmetic formula, the effect of such loss of proprioception was estimated by comparing the amputee group with the nonamputee group, while the contribution of visual input was estimated by comparing both groups with their eyes open and closed. Using this parameter, no clear age dependency was demonstrated. The mean locus of sway for the amputee group was the same as the nonamputee group with the eyes open. However, a comparison of the eyes open/eyes closed ratio in both groups demonstrated a significantly greater increase for the amputee group than for control subjects (p less than 0.001). In the future, mean locus of sway might provide a useful clinical method of measurement and the eyes open/eyes closed ratio might provide a simple and useful method to communicate the dependency upon vision in individual patients.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Amputees
  • Diagnosis, Computer-Assisted*
  • Evaluation Studies as Topic
  • Humans
  • Knee
  • Leg
  • Middle Aged
  • Posture*
  • Proprioception*
  • Visual Perception*