Diabetic neuropathy and surface sway-referencing disrupt somatosensory information for postural stability in stance

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In order to determine the type of somatosensory information for postural control that is most affected by neuropathy, we compared the relative effects of three methods of sway-referencing the surface in a group of subjects with profound loss of somatosensory function associated with sensory polyneuropathy from diabetes with age-matched control subjects. Sway-referencing disrupted somatosensory feedback for postural control by servo-controlling the dorsi- and plantar-flexion rotation of the support surface in proportion to anterior-posterior excursion of (1) ankle angle, (2) center of body mass (CoM) angle or (3) filtered center of pressure (CoP). Postural sway in subjects with somatosensory loss was significantly larger than normal on a firm surface but not on the sway-referenced surfaces, suggesting that sway-referencing disrupts somatosensory information for postural control already disrupted by neuropathy. Control subjects standing on any sway-referenced surface swayed significantly more than neuropathy subjects who stood on a firm surface, suggesting that sway-referencing disrupts more somatosensory information than disrupted by severe neuropathy. CoP sway-referencing was less sensitive than ankle or CoM sway-referencing for distinguishing postural sway in subjects with somatosensory loss from age-matched control subjects. Given that filtered CoP sway-referencing disrupts the ability to utilize somatosensory information related to surface reactive force to a greater extent than the other two methods of sway-referencing, then these results support the hypothesis that subjects with diabetic peripheral neuropathy have lost more CoP information, than ankle or CoM angle information, for controlling postural sway in stance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)316-326
Number of pages11
JournalSomatosensory and Motor Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 2002



  • Balance
  • Diabetic
  • Neuropathy
  • Posture
  • Somatosensory
  • Stance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Sensory Systems

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