In our study we examined postural performance of young healthy persons (HY), elderly healthy persons (HE), and elderly persons at high risk of falling (FR). Anterio-posterior (AP) and medio-lateral (ML) ankle and hip angular deviations, as well as linear displacements of the center of mass (COM) were assessed in persons standing with eyes either open or closed, while none, and 40 and 30 Hz vibrations were applied bilaterally to the ankle muscle gastrocnemius. During quiet standing with eyes open, balance parameters in FR group differed from those in healthy groups. ML ankle and hip angular deviations, as well as COM linear displacements were noticeably larger in FR group. During quiet standing with eyes closed, all balance parameters in participants of all groups had a clear trend to increase. During standing with eyes open, 40 Hz vibration increased all but one balance parameter within HY group, ankle angular deviations in HE group, but none in FR group. In response to 30 Hz vibration, only ankle angular deviations and COM linear displacements increased in HY group. There were no changes in both elderly groups. During standing with eyes closed, 40 and 30 Hz vibrations did not produce consistent changes in balance parameters in HY and HE groups. In FR persons, 40 Hz vibration did not change balance parameters. However, in FR groups, 30 Hz vibration decreased ankle and hip angular deviations, and COM linear displacements. The major result of the study is a finding that low intensity vibration of ankle muscles makes balance better in elderly persons at high risk of falling. This result is clinically relevant because it suggests that applying mild vibration to ankle muscles while standing and walking might benefit elderly persons, improving their postural performance and reducing a risk of unexpected falls.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)