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The effect of footwear on balance

1 May 1993


Computerized balance testing is becoming increasingly accepted in the physical therapy profession. Hence, there is a need for standardizing the technique so that the results are reliable and valid. The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects that shoes have on postural sway. The Chattecx Balance system was utilized to measure the postural sway of subjects under 4 platform conditions: 1) Stable, 2) Toes up, 3) Linear, and 4) Toes up and down. All subjects were tested with eyes open and eyes closed for each test condition, with both shoes on and shoes off (a total of 16 tests per subject).· Postural sway was significantly increased with shoes on as compared to shoes off in only three of the eight test conditions, including: 1) Eyes open with the platform moving in a linear direction, 2) Eyes open with the platform moving up and down, and 3) Eyes closed with the platform moving up and down. Secondly, the effect of vision was investigated. Postural sway was significantly increased with eyes closed as compared to eyes open in all but two of the eight test conditions. The results indicate that there is a definite, although not statistically significant trend of an increase in postural sway with shoes on. This trend becomes significant when larger. perturbations are used. This study shows that a person's balance tends to be better without shoes, however, it may not matter if shoes are worn during a balance evaluation. It is more important to be consistent when testing a patient so that the results of the test are both reliable and valid.


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