Effect of the haptic anchors during balancing and walking tasks in older adults: A systematic review

J Bodyw Mov Ther. 2023 Jul:35:69-74. doi: 10.1016/j.jbmt.2023.04.035. Epub 2023 Apr 17.


Background: Older adults are benefited from the continuous tactile information to enhance postural control. Therefore, the aim was to evaluate the effect of the haptic anchors during balancing and walking tasks in older adults.

Methods: The search strategy (up to January 2023) was based on the PICOT (older adults; anchor system during balance and walking tasks; any control group; postural control measurements; short and/or long-term effect). Two pairs of reviewers independently examined all titles and abstracts for eligibility. The reviewers independently extracted data from the included studies, assessed the risk of bias, and certainty of the evidence.

Results: Six studies were included in the qualitative synthesis. All studies used a 125-g haptic anchor system. Four studies used anchors when standing in a semi-tandem position, two in tandem walking on different surfaces, and one in an upright position after plantar flexor muscle fatigue. Two studies showed that the anchor system reduced body sway. One study showed that the ellipse area was significantly lower for the 50% group (reduced frequency) in the post-practice phase. One study showed that the reduction in the ellipse area was independent of the fatigue condition. Two studies observed reduced trunk acceleration in the frontal plane during tandem waking tasks. The studies had low to moderate certainty of evidence.

Conclusion: Haptic anchors can reduce postural sway during balance and walking tasks in older adults. Also, positive effects were seen during the delayed post-practice phase after the removal of anchors only in individuals who used a reduced anchor frequency.

Keywords: Anchor system; Gait; Older adults; Posture control.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Haptic Technology*
  • Humans
  • Muscle Fatigue
  • Muscle, Skeletal
  • Postural Balance / physiology
  • Walking* / physiology