Compliant support surfaces affect sensory reweighting during balance control

I. M. Schut, D. Engelhart, J. H. Pasma, R.G.K.M. Aarts, A. C. Schouten

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


To maintain upright posture and prevent falling, balance control involves the complex interaction between nervous, muscular and sensory systems, such as sensory reweighting. When balance is impaired, compliant foam mats are used in training methods to improve balance control. However, the effect of the compliance of these foam mats on sensory reweighting remains unclear. In this study, eleven healthy subjects maintained standing balance with their eyes open while continuous support surface (SS) rotations disturbed the proprioception of the ankles. Multisine disturbance torques were applied in 9 trials; three levels of SS compliance, combined with three levels of desired SS rotation amplitude. Two trials were repeated with eyes closed. The corrective ankle torques, in response to the SS rotations, were assessed in frequency response functions (FRF). Lower frequency magnitudes (LFM) were calculated by averaging the FRF magnitudes in a lower frequency window, representative for sensory reweighting. Results showed that increasing the SS rotation amplitude leads to a decrease in LFM. In addition there was an interaction effect; the decrease in LFM by increasing the SS rotation amplitude was less when the SS was more compliant. Trials with eyes closed had a larger LFM compared to trials with eyes open. We can conclude that when balance control is trained using foam mats, two different effects should be kept in mind. An increase in SS compliance has a known effect causing larger SS rotations and therefore greater down weighting of proprioceptive information. However, SS compliance itself influences the sensitivity of sensory reweighting to changes in SS rotation amplitude with relatively less reweighting occurring on more compliant surfaces as SS amplitude changes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)241-247
JournalGait & Posture
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Balance control
  • Compliant support surface
  • Proprioception
  • Sensory reweighting
  • System identification

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