Subjective perception of body sway

M. Schieppati, E. Tacchini, A. Nardone, J. Tarantola, S. Corna

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Objectives and method - The relation between body sway recorded through a stabilometric platform and the subjective report of steadiness was studied in 20 young and 20 elderly subjects and 20 neuropathic and 20 parkinsonian patients standing upright. The trials were performed under two stances (feet apart, feet together) and two visual conditions (eyes open, eyes closed). At the end of each trial, subjects scored their performance on a scale from 10 (complete steadiness) to 0 (fall). Results - In all subjects, independently of the stance conditions, the larger the body sway the smaller the reported score. The function best fitting this relation was linear when sway was expressed on a logarithmic scale. The scoring reproducibility proved high both within and across subjects. Despite the different body sways and scores recorded under the different visual and postural conditions (eyes closed > eyes open, feet together > feet apart) in all groups of subjects and patients, the slopes of the relations between sway and score were broadly superimposable. In the normal subjects, the scores were slightly higher during eyes open than eyes closed trials for corresponding body sways. This was interpreted as a sign of perception of greater stability when vision was allowed. Parkinsonian patients swayed to a similar extent as normal subjects, and their scores were accordingly similar, both with eyes open and eyes closed. Neuropathic patients swayed to a larger extent than normal subjects, and their scores were matched appropriately. Although the slope of their relation with eyes closed was not different from that of normal subjects, with eyes open it was steeper and similar to that with eyes closed, suggesting that these patients did not feel more stable when they could take advantage of vision. Conclusions - The subjective evaluation of body sway, irrespective of stance condition, age, neuropathy, and basal ganglia disease, reflects the actual sway, and is inversely proportional to the logarithm of the sway value. The remarkable similarity of the relation between score and sway across the various groups of subjects with eyes closed indicates a common mode of sway evaluation, possibly based on integration of several sensory inputs. All groups except neuropathic patients seem to take advantage of the redundancy of the inputs. Basal ganglia integrity does not seem to have a role in the evaluation of sway.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)313-322
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry
Volume66
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1999

Keywords

  • Balance
  • Perception
  • Stabilometry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology

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