Sensation & falls


Skin at the back of the ankle contributes to awareness of ankle position 1   Recently updated !

The ability to know how our limbs are positioned in space is called proprioception. This ‘sense’ is possible through information gained from individual sensors in the muscles and in the skin. In fact, skin stretch on the back or dorsal surface of the hand has been shown to create illusory […]


Sensorimotor and cognitive factors associated with walking adaptability: novel perspectives for fall prevention in older people 2   Recently updated !

Negotiating unexpected obstacles, such as cracks in pavement, requires successful adaptation of our walking pattern to guarantee stability and to avoid falling. Poor walking performance might contribute to tripping, which is frequently reported as a cause of falls in older people (Lord et al. 1993). We have devised a test […]


How does step training affect stepping performance in untrained directions?   Recently updated !

Step training is effective for preventing falls in older people (Okubo et al., 2015). This is likely because the movements performed during training closely mimic those which are necessary to avoid falling in real-world situations. One form of step training involves interactive video game technology. This type of training has […]


Home-based exercise improves balance in people with dementia   Recently updated !

Older people with dementia are at increased risk of physical decline and falls, with 60% falling annually. So far, there is limited evidence that falls can be prevented in community-dwelling older people with dementia (Sherrington et al., 2016). Poor balance and depressive symptoms are risk factors for falls in this […]


Calibrating skin maps: How are body metrics represented?   Recently updated !

To accurately move there is a need for proprioception, the sense of where our limbs are in space. Although we know much about how proprioceptive signals arise in the periphery, less is known about how these signals are integrated so that they can be understood in the spatial co-ordinates of the […]


How do we maintain reaching accuracy during body movement?   Recently updated !

When reaching for an object we must compensate for any body movement that may take the arm off-target.  For example, reaching for a handrail when standing on a bus that suddenly accelerates requires detection and compensation for body movement relative to the handrail.  A key sensory system which can detect body […]


Falls without a cause: Understanding risk factors for unexplained falls in older people

While older people most often fall because of a slip, trip or loss of balance, up to 25% of falls remain unexplained (Anpalahan & Gibson, 2012; Davies & Kenny, 1996; Lord et al., 1993). People who have had unexplained falls report having fallen because of a blackout, dizziness, feeling faint or “having […]


Proprioception: The body’s representation of the hand

Proprioception, our ‘sixth sense’, underlies our innate ability to localise our body parts in space and to know the forces, angles and movements at our joints (Proske & Gandevia, 2012). This ‘sense’ allows us to interact with our environment. For example, reaching for a cup of water requires knowledge of the exact spatial […]


Interview: Professor Stephen Lord talks about the potential of Perturbation Training 2

Making people trip and slip under controlled conditions in the lab (perturbation training) promises to be a quick method to train people how to avoid falls in the real world. Professor Stephen Lord and his team at NeuRA are investigating the effectiveness of perturbation training for preventing falls in the […]


Physiological profile of “fallers” with multiple sclerosis

Falls are common among people with multiple sclerosis (MS).  Many clinical tests such as the Berg Balance Scale and the Timed Up and Go or laboratory-based assessments such as posturography involving moving force-plates, have been used to estimate fall risks in MS.  But, these tests are limited to measures of functional balance, […]