Control of sway using vibrotactile feedback of body tilt in patients with moderate and severe postural control deficits.J Vestib Res. 2005; 15(5-6):313-25.JV
We evaluated the effect of the vibrotactile display of body tilt upon the postural stability of vestibulopathic subjects during standing. Two groups were studied: those with moderate and with severe deficits as defined by postural stability test scores. They were studied under conditions of distorted sensory input, and during anterior-posterior perturbations. Seventeen subjects, with uni- or bilateral vestibular deficits, as determined by electronystagmography and vertical axis rotation, were tested using Equitest computerized dynamic posturography (CDP). Based on their performance on the CDP they were divided into two groups having either moderate (nine subjects) or severe (eight subjects) postural control deficits. Their anterior-posterior (A/P) body motion at the waist was measured with a micromechanical rate gyroscope and a linear accelerometer. The resulting tilt estimate was displayed by a vibrotactile array attached to the torso. The vibration served as a tilt feedback to the subject. The subject's performance was evaluated using the root-mean-square (RMS) of both the A/P body motion and center-of-pressure (CoP) estimates. Sensory distortions were introduced using the Equitest Sensory Organization Tests (SOT). These tests are designed to distort A/P sensory inputs while standing. The SOT 5 distorts proprioceptive information about ankle joint movement, while the subject stands eyes-closed on a moving support platform that measures foot pressure. The SOT 6 adds distorted visual information about body movement instead of testing with eyes closed. Perturbations were introduced using the Equitest Motor Control Tests (MCT). These move the support platform forward or backward with small, medium and large displacements in the horizontal plane while measuring subjects' foot pressure responses. We used the medium and large backward tests. Vibrotactile display of body tilt reduced the subjects' A/P sway and improved their balance. The finding was more evident for those subjects with severe deficits than those moderate ones. This trend was found for both SOT 5 and 6, as well as the medium and large MCT. Additionally, during the MCT, the peak deflection and mean recovery time also decreased significantly.