Comparison of posture and balance in cancer survivors and age-matched controls

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Background:The combination of peripheral neuropathy and other treatment-associated side effects is likely related to an increased incidence of falls in cancer survivors. The purpose of this study was to quantify differences in postural stability between healthy age-matched controls and cancer survivors.Methods:Quiet standing under four conditions (eyes open/closed, rigid/compliant surface) was assessed in 34 cancer survivors (2 males, 32 females; age: 54(13) yrs., height: 1.62(0.07) m; mass: 78.5(19.5) kg) and 34 age-matched controls (5 males, 29 females; age: 54(15) yrs.; height: 1.62(0.08) m; mass: 72.8(21.1) kg). Center of pressure data were collected for 30 s and the trajectories were analyzed (100 Hz). Three-factor (group*surface*vision) mixed model MANOVAs with repeated measures were used to determine the effect of vision and surface on postural steadiness between groups.Findings:Cancer survivors exhibited larger mediolateral root-mean square distance and velocity of the center of pressure, as well as increased 95% confidence ellipse area (P < 0.01) when compared with their age-matched counterparts. For example, when removing visual input, cancer survivors had an average increase in 95% confidence ellipse area of 91.8 mm2 while standing on a rigid surface compared to a 68.6 mm2 increase for the control group. No frequency-based center of pressure measures differed between groups.Interpretation:Cancer survivors exhibit decreased postural steadiness when compared with age-matched controls. For cancer survivors undergoing rehabilitation focused on existing balance deficits, a small subset of the center of pressure measures presented here can be used to track progress throughout the intervention and potentially mitigate fall risk.HighlightsCancer survivors exhibit less postural steadiness than age-matched controls.Center of pressure based measures change with varied vision and surface conditions.A subset of center of pressure metrics can adequately assess postural stability.Only time-domain measures found differences between cancer survivors and controls.Time-domain measures may be more useful when quantifying postural deficits.

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