Human movement science

Haptic information and cognitive-visual task reduce postural sway in faller and non-faller older adults.

PMID 29902704


Understanding the effects of haptic input while performing a cognitive-visual task on postural control can broaden comprehension of the functional integration hypothesis in older adults with and without a history of falls. We aimed to investigate the effect of haptic input provided by light touch (LT) and the anchors while performing a cognitive-visual task in faller and non-faller older adults when standing upright. Twenty-two fallers and twenty-two non-fallers older adults participated in this study. They stood upright with feet together and performed six experimental conditions combining haptic cues (none, LT, and anchors) and the presence/absence of the cognitive-visual task (the adapted visual Stroop test). In the anchor condition, participants held a flexible cable in each hand, with the other end of the cable attached to a force transducer. They pulled on the cables just enough to keep them taut, applying a small amount of force. The results showed that there was no group difference in postural sway in any condition. All participants reduced postural sway with haptic input provided by LT and anchors. They also reduced their postural sway in the anterior-posterior direction while performing the cognitive-visual task. Fallers and non-fallers benefited equally from the haptic input. Both groups were able to reduce postural sway with the cognitive-visual task, which supports the hypothesis that postural sway is modulated to facilitate the execution of other non-postural tasks and a history of falls does not affect this ability.