Interactions of touch feedback with muscle vibration and galvanic vestibular stimulation in the control of trunk posture

E. Maaswinkel, H.E.J. Veeger, J.H. van Dieen

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    This study investigated the effect of touch on trunk sway in a seated position. Two touch conditions were included: touching an object with the index finger of the right hand (hand-touch) and maintaining contact with an object at the level of the spine of T10 on the mid back (back-touch). In both touch conditions, the exerted force stayed below 2. N. Furthermore, the interaction of touch with paraspinal muscle vibration and galvanic vestibular stimulation (GVS) was studied. Thirteen healthy subjects with no history of low-back pain participated in this study. Subjects sat on a stool and trunk sway was measured with a motion capture system tracking a cluster marker on the trunk. Subjects performed a total of 12 trials of 60-s duration in a randomized order, combining the experimental conditions of no-touch, hand-touch or back-touch with no sensory perturbation, paraspinal muscle vibration or GVS. The results showed that touch through hand or back decreased trunk sway and decreased the effects of muscle vibration and GVS. GVS led to a large increase in sway whereas the effect of muscle vibration was only observed as an increase of drift and not of sway. In the current experimental set-up, the stabilizing effect of touch was strong enough to mask any effects of perturbations of vestibular and paraspinal muscle spindle afference. In conclusion, tactile information, whenever available, seems to play a dominant role in seated postural sway and therefore has important implications for studying trunk control. © 2013 Elsevier B.V.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)745-749
    JournalGait and Posture
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 2014


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