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Clinical balance tests, proprioceptive system and adolescent idiopathic scoliosis



Adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (AIS) is a three-dimensional deformity of the spinal column of unknown etiology. Multiple factors could be involved, including neurosensory pathways and, potentially, an elective disorder of dynamic proprioception. The purpose of this study was to determine whether routine balance tests could be used to demonstrate an elective alteration of dynamic proprioception in AIS.


This was a multicentre case–control study based on prospectively collected clinical data, in three hospitals pediatric, with spine consultation, from January 2013 through April 2015. From an original population of 547 adolescents, inclusion and non-inclusion criteria indentified 114 adolescents with right thoracic AIS (mean age 14.5 ± 1.9 years, Cobb angle 35.7 ± 15.3°) and 81 matched adolescents without scoliosis (mean age 14.1 ± 1.9 years). Participants performed three routine clinical balance tests to assess the static and dynamic proprioception: the Fukuda–Utenberger stepping test (angle of rotation in degrees and distance of displacement in cm) to assess dynamic balance; the sharpened Romberg test and the unipedal stance test (eyes closed) to assess static balance.


There was no significant difference between AIS subjects and controls for the static tests, but there was a significant difference for the dynamic test for both measures: distance of displacement (p < 0.01) and angle of rotation (p < 0.0001). This result confirms our initial these: the dynamic proprioception is altered electively in AIS.


These findings confirm recent AIS studies. Our results might be related to immature central integration of dynamic proprioceptive input leading to a poorly adapted motor response, particularly for postural control of the, in AIS. These balance tests can be performed in routine practice. Their validity as a biomarker for screening and monitoring purposes should be assessed.

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The authors are grateful to the HARPS Association members for their helpful comments (study methodology). The authors thank the rehabilitation teams in the participating centers whose cooperation was essential for this work (clinical balance tests) (C. Delobel, J. Guibaud, C. Dufour, M. Avila, C. Decock, C. Vandermeiren, C. Jacquemin).

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Correspondence to Jean-Francois Catanzariti.

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Authors have any potential conflict of interest, real or perceived; without study sponsor, in study design, the collection, analysis, and interpretation of data, the writing of the report, and the decision to submit the paper for publication.

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Le Berre, M., Guyot, MA., Agnani, O. et al. Clinical balance tests, proprioceptive system and adolescent idiopathic scoliosis. Eur Spine J 26, 1638–1644 (2017).

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  • Idiopathic scoliosis
  • Proprioceptive sensory
  • Postural balance test
  • Postural control
  • Fukuda stepping test