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Immediate Effects of Vibrotactile Feedback on Postural Sway in Healthy Older Adults

Previous research has shown the utility of vibrotactile feedback to improve postural sway characteristics in persons with vestibular deficits. Tactile feedback given through vibration has been used more as a modality of training but immediate effects on postural control among older adults have not been investigated. PURPOSE: To compare the immediate effects of tactile vibration on postural sway in healthy older adults in challenging stance and sensory conditions. METHODS: 10 healthy older adults (76.4 ± 6.8years), performed five standing balance conditions on a AMTI forceplate for 30s each: feet together on firm surface eyes open (C1), eyes closed (C2); feet together on foam surface eyes open (C3), eyes closed (C4), and tandem stance on firm surface eyes open (C5). Participants did 2 trials of each condition both with and without vibrotactile feedback. The feedback was given using a waist belt with sensors that were activated when participants swayed in a particular direction as detected by an Xbox Kinect camera (Sensory Kinetics system; Engineering Acoustics, Casselberry, FL). Center of pressure sway area was compared within each condition using a paired samples t-test to estimate the effect of vibration. RESULTS: See Table 1. Since only 5 subjects could complete C4 data was not included in statistical analysis. CONCLUSION: Tactile vibration did not acutely effect postural sway in challenging stance conditions in healthy older adults. Long term effects of tactile vibration on postural sway in challenging stance conditions need to be investigated.
Listed In: Physical Therapy