Context: Patients with somatosensory deficits have been found to rely more on visual feedback for postural control. However, current balance tests may be limited in identifying increased visual dependence (sensory reweighting to the visual system), as options are typically limited to eyes open or closed conditions with no progressions between. Objective: To assess the capability of stroboscopic glasses to induce sensory reweighting of visual input during single-leg balance. Design:Descriptive Setting: Laboratory Participants: 18 healthy subjects without vision or balance disorders or lower extremity injury history (9 females; age = 22.1 ± 2.1 y; height = 169.8 ± 8.5 cm; mass = 66.5 ± 10.6 kg) participated. Interventions: Subjects performed 3 trials of unipedal stance for 10 s with eyes open (EO) and closed (EC), and with stroboscopic vision (SV) that was completed with specialized eyewear that intermittently cycled between opaque and transparent for 100 ms at a time. Balance tasks were performed on firm and foam surfaces, with the order randomized. Main Outcome Measures: Ten center-of-pressure parameters were computed. Results: Separate ANOVAs with repeated measures found significant differences between the 3 visual conditions on both firm (P-values =< .001) and foam (P-values =< .001 to .005) surfaces for all measures. For trials on firm surface, almost all measures showed that balance with SV was significantly impaired relative to EO, but less impaired than EC. On the foam surface, almost all postural stability measures demonstrated significant impairments with SV compared with EO, but the impairment with SV was similar to EC. Conclusions:SV impairment of single-leg balance was large on the firm surface, but not to the same degree as EC. However, the foam surface disruption to somatosensory processing and sensory reweighting to vision lead to greater disruptive effects of SV to the same level as EC. This indicates that when the somatosensory system is perturbed even a moderate decrease in visual feedback (SV) may induce an EC level impairment to postural control during single-leg stance.
K-M Kim and J-S Kim are with the Dept of Kinesiology and Sport Sciences, University of Miami, Miami, FL. Grooms is with the Division of Athletic Training, School of Applied Health Sciences and Wellness, College of Health Sciences and Professions; and the Ohio Musculoskeletal and Neurological Institute; Ohio University, Athens, OH.