Proprioceptive impairments in high fall risk older adults: The effect of mechanical calf vibration on postural balance

Nima Toosizadeh, Hossein Ehsani, Marco Miramonte, Martha J Mohler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


Background: Impairments in proprioceptive mechanism with aging has been observed and associated with fall risk. The purpose of the current study was to assess proprioceptive deficits among high fall risk individuals in comparison with healthy participants, when postural performance was disturbed using low-frequency mechanical gastrocnemius vibratory stimulation. Methods: Three groups of participants were recruited: healthy young (n = 10; age = 23 ± 2 years), healthy elders (n = 10; age = 73 ± 3 years), and high fall risk elders (n = 10; age = 84 ± 9 years). Eyes-open and eyes-closed upright standing balance performance was measured with no vibration, and 30 and 40 Hz vibration of both calves. Vibration-induced changes in balance behaviors, compared to baseline (no vibratory stimulation) were compared between three groups using multivariable repeated measures analysis of variance models. Results: Overall, similar results were observed for two vibration frequencies. However, changes in body sway due to vibration were more obvious within the eyes-closed condition, and in the medial-lateral direction. Within the eyes-closed condition high fall risk participants showed 83% less vibration-induced change in medial-lateral body sway, and 58% less sway velocity, when compared to healthy participants (p < 0.001; effect size = 0.45-0.64). Conclusions: The observed differences in vibration effects on balance performance may be explained by reduced sensitivity in peripheral nervous system among older adults with impaired balance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number51
JournalBioMedical Engineering Online
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 2 2018


  • Body sway
  • Falling
  • Geriatrics
  • Mechanical stimulation
  • Somatosensory system
  • Wearable motion sensors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
  • Biomaterials
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


Dive into the research topics of 'Proprioceptive impairments in high fall risk older adults: The effect of mechanical calf vibration on postural balance'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this