The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of visual and somatosensory information on body sway in individuals with Down syndrome (DS). Nine adults with DS (19–29 years old) and nine control subjects (CS) (19–29 years old) stood in the upright stance in four experimental conditions: no vision and no touch; vision and no touch; no vision and touch; and vision and touch. In the vision condition, participants looked at a target placed in front of them; in the no vision condition, participants wore a black cotton mask. In the touch condition, participants touched a stationary surface with their right index finger; in the no touch condition, participants kept their arms hanging alongside their bodies. A force plate was used to estimate center of pressure excursion for both anterior-posterior and medial-lateral directions. MANOVA revealed that both the individuals with DS and the control subjects used vision and touch to reduce overall body sway, although individuals with DS still oscillated more than did the CS. These results indicate that adults with DS are able to use sensory information to reduce body sway, and they demonstrate that there is no difference in sensory integration between the individuals with DS and the CS.
The authors are with the Laboratory of Movement Studies, Dept of Physical Education—Institute of Biosciences, UNESP—São Paulo State University-Rio Claro, Brazil.