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01.06.2014 | Original Article | Ausgabe 6/2014

European Journal of Applied Physiology 6/2014

Effectiveness of electrical noise in reducing postural sway: a comparison between imperceptible stimulation applied to the anterior and to the posterior leg muscles

European Journal of Applied Physiology > Ausgabe 6/2014
Fernando Henrique Magalhães, André Fabio Kohn
Wichtige Hinweise
Communicated by Fausto Baldissera.



The aim of this study was to investigate whether subsensory electrical noise stimulation applied over the tibialis anterior (TA) muscles may reduce postural oscillations during quiet stance and to compare such reductions with those obtained by applying the noise stimulation over the triceps surae (TS) muscles. The rationale relies on the use of noise stimulation to enhance the sensitivity of sensory receptors, thereby improving the performance of the postural control system. As recent evidence suggested that the TA muscle might be a better source of proprioceptive information during quiet stance than the TS muscles, the main hypothesis of the present study was that subsensory noise stimulation applied to the TA muscles should be more efficient for postural stabilization than a similar stimulation to the TS.


Participants had their postural steadiness assessed while subsensory electrical noise was applied bilaterally to their TA or TS muscles and also while the stimulation was applied bilaterally to both TA and TS muscles. No stimulation was delivered in the control condition.


Time-domain and frequency-domain parameters based on center of mass and center of pressure signals were significantly reduced when noise stimulation was applied to the anterior and/or to the posterior leg muscles. No consistent differences in postural sway parameters were observed among the stimulation conditions.


This is the first investigation showing that subsensory stimulation applied over the TA muscles alone is effective in attenuating postural sway, with TS stimulation being equally effective. These findings may have useful applications for the development of medical/rehabilitation devices designed to improve postural steadiness in people with balance impairments.

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