Plantar sensation, plantar pressure, and postural stability alterations and effects of visual status in older adults.
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Purpose Ageing leads to plantar sensation and pressure alterations and poor postural control. The aim of this study was to compare the plantar sensation and static plantar pressure distribution between young and older adults. A secondary aim was to investigate the effect of ageing and visual status on postural stability. Materials and methods Forty older subjects and 43 young adult individuals participated in the study. Plantar light touch sensation was evaluated using Semmes-Weinstein monofilaments. Static plantar pressure and postural stability were assessed with the WinTrack(R) Pedobarography device. Results Plantar sensation thresholds of the older individuals were higher compared to the young in all plantar regions (p < 0.001). The plantar contact area was greater in older individuals (p < 0.001). Maximum plantar pressure of midfoot was higher and maximum plantar pressure of the rearfoot and whole foot was less in older individuals during quiet stance (p < 0.05). The main effects of group and visual condition were significant for mean latero-lateral and antero-posterior sway speed with large effect sizes (p < 0.05). Conclusions The sensation of all plantar regions reduced, the rearfoot plantar pressure decreased, and the midfoot plantar pressure increased in older individuals compared to young. Postural stability was reduced in the older individuals, and their postural control was more affected by the eliminated visual information compared to the young. Increased plantar contact area and midfoot plantar pressure may be related to decreased MLA height in older individuals. Older individuals may need visual information more to maintain postural control because of reduced plantar sensation.
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