Sensorimotor Control Impairment in Young Adults With Idiopathic Scoliosis Compared With Healthy Controls

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Abstract

Objective

It has been hypothesized that the impaired sensorimotor control observed in adolescents with idiopathic scoliosis (IS) may be related more to the onset of scoliosis than to the maturation of sensory systems or sensorimotor control mechanisms. The objective of this study was to assess sensorimotor control in adults diagnosed with IS in adolescence versus healthy controls.

Methods

The study included 20 young adults 20 to 24 years of age (10 healthy controls and 10 diagnosed with adolescent IS but not treated for it). Binaural bipolar galvanic vestibular stimulation (GVS) was delivered to assess sensorimotor control. Vertical forces under each foot and upper body kinematics along the frontal plane were measured before GVS (2-second window), during GVS (2-second window), immediately after the cessation of GVS (1-second window), and during the following 2 seconds. Balance control was assessed by calculating the root mean square values of vertical forces and upper body kinematics.

Results

Compared with healthy controls, the IS group showed greater body sway upon GVS; the amplitude of this sway was even greater immediately after the cessation of GVS—an outcome requiring sensorimotor control.

Conclusion

Compared with normal controls, adults who had been diagnosed with IS in adolescence showed altered balance control immediately following GVS. This finding suggests that dysfunctional sensorimotor control may be related to the onset of scoliosis rather than to a transient suboptimal development of the sensory systems or sensorimotor control mechanisms.

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