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Current Gerontology and Geriatrics Research
Volume 2016, Article ID 2941964, 9 pages
Research Article

Do Aging and Tactile Noise Stimulation Affect Responses to Support Surface Translations in Healthy Adults?

1Memorial Bone & Joint Research Foundation, 1140 Business Center Drive Suite 101, Houston, TX 77043, USA
2Health and Human Performance Department, University of Houston, 3855 Holman Street, Houston, TX 77204-6015, USA

Received 10 October 2015; Revised 23 February 2016; Accepted 4 April 2016

Academic Editor: Mariano Malaguarnera

Copyright © 2016 Marius Dettmer et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Appropriate neuromuscular responses to support surface perturbations are crucial to prevent falls, but aging-related anatomical and physiological changes affect the appropriateness and efficiency of such responses. Low-level noise application to sensory receptors has shown to be effective for postural improvement in a variety of different balance tasks, but it is unknown whether this intervention may have value for improvement of corrective postural responses. Ten healthy younger and ten healthy older adults were exposed to sudden backward translations of the support surface. Low-level noise (mechanical vibration) to the foot soles was added during random trials and temporal (response latency) and spatial characteristics (maximum center-of-pressure excursion and anterior-posterior path length) of postural responses were assessed. Mixed-model ANOVA was applied for analysis of postural response differences based on age and vibration condition. Age affected postural response characteristics, but older adults were well able to maintain balance when exposed to a postural perturbation. Low-level noise application did not affect any postural outcomes. Healthy aging affects some specific measures of postural stability, and in high-functioning older individuals, a low-level noise intervention may not be valuable. More research is needed to investigate if recurring fallers and neuropathy patients could benefit from the intervention in postural perturbation tasks.