Effects of Augmented Somatosensory Input Using Vibratory Insoles to Improve Walking in Individuals With Chronic Post-Stroke Hemiparesis

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Gait and Posture



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Background: Stroke survivors suffer from hemiparesis and somatosensory impairments, which adversely impact walking performance, placing them at higher risks for trips and falls. Post-stroke, somatosensory deficits are commonly observed as impaired interpretation of afferent input and increased threshold. Diminishing or augmenting somatosensory inputs via various techniques have been demonstrated to be able to modify static and dynamic balance, postural and locomotor control in non-neurologically impaired as well as neurologically impaired individuals. Research question: We sought to investigate whether enhancing somatosensory input using vibratory insoles, can improve post-stroke gait. We hypothesized that with augmentation of somatosensory input at the soles via vibratory insoles would improve post-stroke gait via increased propulsive forces, decreased braking forces and increased ankle angle movements in the paretic legs of individuals with chronic post-stroke hemiparesis. Methods: Fifteen individuals with chronic post-stroke hemiparesis and 15 age-similar non-neurologically impaired controls participated in this cross-sectional study. Enhanced somatosensory stimulation was delivered using a pair of tactor-embedded insoles, providing suprathreshold vibratory stimulation to the bottom of the feet. Participants walked over an instrumented treadmill with self-selected speeds, under 5 conditions: no insole in shoe (NT), insoles in shoe with no vibration (BOFF), vibration under both feet (BON), vibration under one foot only (ION, CON). Kinetics and kinematics during walking were recorded and analyzed offline. Results: Suprathreshold vibratory stimulations did not alter gait kinetics under any stimulation conditions. We observed increased paretic ankle dorsiflexions in the paretic legs, when vibratory stimuli were applied unilaterally. Significance: Vibratory stimulations applied at suprathreshold intensity to the bottom of the feet to augment somatosensory feedback can potentially be used as a low-cost solution to address the inadequate toe clearance during walking in people post-stroke, which is an important goal in post-stroke rehabilitation.


Gait; Hemiparesis; Stroke; Tactile stimulus; Vibration; Walking


Physical Therapy | Rehabilitation and Therapy



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