• The Effects of Vibratory Noise on Responses to Postural Stability

      Darvish, Kurosh; Keshner, Emily Anne; Lauer, Richard T. (Temple University. Libraries, 2011)
      Our human balance system is critical for preventing falls. The system consists of a complex set of sensorimotor controls that includes integration of sensory inputs including sight, touch and vestibular to produce motor output. Tactile afferents from the plantar surface contribute to the human balance and movement control system. Loss of sensory information could lead to impaired balance primarily because of impaired detection of changes in upright position, delayed postural reflexes, or failure to realize how far one's center of mass has been displaced thus increasing the probability of falls. Somatosensory and visual information must be integrated to interpret complex sensory environment. Sensory pathways that are simultaneously feeding inputs into the system exhibit non-linear behavior and it is unlikely that the role of a single pathway can be characterized in a static environment. As the sensory environment changes, the need to re-weight the relative dependence on each senses is essential for maintaining stability. Thus, attention also plays an important role in postural control. Attention can be defined as the individual's capacity for information processing. Performing two or more tasks at the same time may require more than an individual's attention capacity and thereby may weaken performance in the other task. Stochastic resonance phenomena has been shown to enhance sensory information processing and perception. This series of studies sought to analyze the effects of vibrotactile noise on human postural responses using a sub-threshold vibration (SV) and above-threshold vibration (AV). The vibrotactile noise was applied at the soles of both feet with six DC vibrator disks embedded in open-type footwear. Twenty one healthy adults wearing the vibrating footwear stood quietly on a compliant surface for 90 seconds inside a three-wall virtual environment. The visual conditions were either eyes closed, eyes open or a continuous visual flow field in a pitch-up direction at constant velocity of 30°/sec. A dual task paradigm was presented as a computation task, the Fibonacci sequence. The first 30 seconds of the 90 seconds trial had no vibration followed by 30 seconds of either sub-threshold or above-threshold vibration. Vibration was removed for the final 30 seconds. Root mean squares (RMS) and approximate entropy (ApEn) of center of mass (COM) and center of pressure (COP) excursions were calculated in the anterior-posterior (AP) and medio-lateral (ML) directions for each 30 second time period and normalized to each subject's initial position. Approximate entropy (ApEn) was used to detect movement variability in a time series to determine the unpredictability of the postural responses. COP and COM data were tested for statistical significance using repeated measures analysis of variance (ANOVA) with within-subject factors of vision (3 levels: eyes closed, eyes open and pitch-up), task (2 levels: single task and dual task), and vibration level (2 levels: sub-threshold vibration and above-threshold vibration) at a 95% confidence level (p<0.05). Results supported the hypothesis that the application of SV and AV affected COP regularity and variability differently when subjected to different visual conditions (eyes closed, eyes open and pitch-up). COM randomness increased (higher ApEn) when attention was diverted from postural control which is in agreement with previous studies. The decrease in COM AP randomness (lower ApEn) with vibration suggested that the application of vibration increased the amount of attention invested in postural control or balance when performing an attention demanding cognitive task. The SV increased the COP-AP regularity (lower ApEn) during eyes-closed and eyes-open conditions while AV increased COP-AP variability (increased RMS) during the pitch-up visual condition. In conclusion, posture and balance were affected by the application of vibration noise. The vibration noise enhanced the amount of attention invested in postural control while performing an attention demanding cognitive task and sensory-motor learning was achieved by increasing COM sway structure regularity (lower ApEn) but not the sway magnitude. These results suggest that the interaction between vibration noise and an attention demanding task resulted in the temporal re-structuring of the postural control system without affecting the equilibrium region for the COM sway excursion. Vibration noise appears to facilitate postural control by altering postural response regularity (lower ApEn). For COM, only postural response regularity but not sway variability was affected by vibration noise in relation to vision regardless of the vibration level (SV or AV). For COP postural responses, the effect of SV and AV differs. Due to the perception of self-motion from the pitch-up visual condition, COP postural response most likely arise from cortical level. Since AV only affected COP responses during pitch-up visual condition and not SV, this study suggests that AV applied affected the cortical level of postural control. Effects of SV on postural responses between the eyes-open and eyes-closed vision conditions suggests that SV may affect a subcortical level of postural control. Understanding the effects and mechanism of vibratory noise may help in the design of effective interventions to prevent falls and rehabilitation. These results provide the scientific basis for development of a SR-based rehabilitation device for people with sensory information and processing deficiency as occurs with aging or stroke. The finding of after effects of vibratory noise can be used to determine dosage of vibrotactile stimulation in the design of vibrating footwear.