Experimental Brain Research

, Volume 234, Issue 8, pp 2305–2314 | Cite as

Improving postural control by applying mechanical noise to ankle muscle tendons

Research Article

Abstract

The application of subthreshold mechanical vibrations with random frequencies (white mechanical noise) to ankle muscle tendons is known to increase muscle proprioceptive information and to improve the detection of ankle movements. The aim of the present study was to analyze the effect of this mechanical noise on postural control, its possible modulation according to the sensory strategies used for postural control, and the consequences of increasing postural difficulty. The upright stance of 20 healthy young participants tested with their eyes closed was analyzed during the application of four different levels of noise and compared to that in the absence of noise (control) in three conditions: static, static on foam, and dynamic (sinusoidal translation). The quiet standing condition was conducted with the eyes open and closed to determine the subjects’ visual dependency to maintain postural stability. Postural performance was assessed using posturographic and motion analysis evaluations. The results in the static condition showed that the spectral power density of body sway significantly decreased with an optimal level of noise and that the higher the spectral power density without noise, the greater the noise effect, irrespective of visual dependency. Finally, noise application was ineffective in the foam and dynamic conditions. We conclude that the application of mechanical noise to ankle muscle tendons is a means to improve quiet standing only. These results suggest that mechanical noise stimulation may be more effective in more impaired populations.

Keywords

Balance Static and dynamic posture Proprioception Stochastic resonance Healthy subjects 

Notes

Acknowledgments

This study was supported by grants from Ministère de l’Enseignement Supérieur et de la Recherche (CNRS UMR 7260). The authors would like to thank Michel Dumitrescu, Jacques Léonard and Nelson Martins Gomes for assistance. We also thank American Journal Experts for revising the English manuscript.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

None.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Aix-Marseille Université, CNRS, NIA UMR 7260, Case B, Centre Saint-CharlesMarseille Cedex 03France

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