Balance impairment is a common symptom in patients living with Multiple Sclerosis (MS), Parkinson’s, post-stroke and Peripheral Neuropathy.
From increased fall risk to reduced independence, compromised dynamic stability can place a heavy emotional burden on these patients.
One of the most effective ways to improve dynamic stability in these patients is to focus on optimising sensory stimulation. Touch, whether it be via the hands or feet, creates an access point between the environment and the brain to better control movement coordination.
The skin of the bottom of the foot houses hundreds of mechanoreceptors, which are sensitive to two-point discrimination, deep pressure, skin stretch and vibration.
When we walk, climb and explore our environments, the sensory stimulation of the foot shoots up to the brain to shape motor development and coordination.
Here are a few studies leading the way when it comes to textured insoles and neuro rehabilitation.
Australian trial: The effects of textured show insoles on walking in people with MS
This study is being led by the University of Queensland and is exploring whether long-term wear of a textured shoe insole can improve walking in people with MS.
Lead researcher Dr Anna Hatton and her team will analyse how people with MS walk over an even and uneven surface, when they are wearing the insoles for the first time and after wearing the insoles for three months.
With the trial completed last year, expect to see results soon.
Textured insoles and Parkinson’s Disease
New research published in the journal Gait and Posture in October 2017 outlines the results of a recent pilot study.
The study, Continuous use of textured insole improve plantar sensation and stride length of people with Parkinson’s disease: A pilot study, found a number of highlights, including:
- Textured insoles benefit plantar sensation and gait of people with PD.
- The enhanced feedback to the sensory system result in an improved motor output.
- Longer wearing periods of the textured insoles may be required to prolong the retention of benefits.
Textured insoles and people recovering from stroke
New research, A textured insole improves gait symmetry in individuals with stroke, was published in the journal Disability and Rehabilitation in 2016.
The study found that ‘when walking with a textured insole, symmetry indexes for stance, single support phases of gait, as well as center of pressure displacements improved significantly.’