Light touch and medio-lateral postural stability during short distance gait

E. Kodesh, F. Falash, E. Sprecher, R. Dickstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


While standing, light fingertip touch on an external stable object attenuates sway and improves balance in healthy adults as well as in individuals with poor postural control. The effect of light touch on balance during gait is, however, not well known. Therefore, the purpose of this work was to study the effects of light fingertip touch on balance during gait. We hypothesized that similar to its effect during stance light touch would increase postural stability.Forty healthy young adults were tested under four gait conditions: (1) eyes open (EO), (2) eyes closed (EC), (3) eyes closed while lightly touching a static object on the right side of the walking lane (ECLTS), (4) eyes closed while lightly touching a dynamic object, namely, a stick that was moved forwards by the subject with the right hand (ECLTD). The main outcome measure was medio-lateral step width variability, a well established indicator of gait balance in the medio-lateral plane.During the EC condition, light touch of an external static object (ECLTS) decreased medio-lateral variability (i.e., balance improved); however, this stabilizing effect was not observed with light touch on the stick.The availability of self positional and spatial cues when touching a static external reference, and their absence when touching a stick that is moved forwards by the subject as he walks, can explain the different effects of light touch in the ECLTS vs the ECLTD gait conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)378
Number of pages1
JournalNeuroscience Letters
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014 Elsevier Ireland Ltd.


  • Balance
  • Gait variability
  • Haptic
  • Walking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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