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Availability of visual and proprioceptive afferent messages and postural control in elderly adults

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Abstract

The ability of young and elderly adults to keep a stable upright posture while facing changes in the availability of visual and/or propriomuscular information was investigated. The two sensory sources of information were alternatively available and withdrawn, jointly and separately, during 10-s alternating sequences. Vision was modified by means of liquid-crystal goggles, and proprioception was altered by means of tendon vibration of both antagonistic ankle muscles. Elderly adults were less stable than young adults when vision was withdrawn. Both groups were greatly affected when proprio-muscular inputs were altered by vibration. Under constant visual conditions and following a propriomuscular perturbation (i.e., vibration), elderly adults were unable to take advantage of the reinsertion of propriomuscular inputs. They showed a transient, decreased stability and were unable to fully recover during a 10-s period, whereas young adults were able to rapidly integrate the information to stabilize their posture. When both propriomuscular and visual inputs were withdrawn and concurrently reinserted, the elderly adults did not show a transitory increase in the velocity of the center of foot pressure. The present results extend findings on the inability of elderly adults to reconfigure rapidly the postural set following reinsertion of sensory inputs. The results also suggest that elderly adults have difficulties in taking advantage of sensory redundancy in postural control.

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Hay, L., Bard, C., Fleury, M. et al. Availability of visual and proprioceptive afferent messages and postural control in elderly adults. Exp Brain Res 108, 129–139 (1996). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00242910

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