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Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2002 Feb;83(2):171-6.

Noise-enhanced vibrotactile sensitivity in older adults, patients with stroke, and patients with diabetic neuropathy.

Author information

1
Center for BioDynamics and Department of Biomedical Engineering, Boston University, Boston, MA 02215, USA.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

To test the hypothesis that vibrotactile detection thresholds in older adults, patients with stroke, and patients with diabetic neuropathy can be significantly reduced with the introduction of mechanical noise.

DESIGN:

A randomized controlled study.

SETTING:

A university research laboratory.

PARTICIPANTS:

Twelve healthy elderly subjects (age range, 67-85y), 5 patients with stroke (age range, 24-64y), and 8 patients with diabetic neuropathy (age range, 53-77y).

INTERVENTIONS:

Each subject's detection thresholds (ie, minimum level of stimulus to be detected) for a vibrotactile stimulus without and with mechanical noise (ie, random vibration with a small intensity) were determined by using a 4-, 2-, and 1-stepping algorithm. The stimuli were applied to the fingertip and/or to the first metatarsal of the foot.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE:

Detection threshold for a vibrotactile stimulus.

RESULTS:

The detection threshold at the fingertip for the vibration stimulus with mechanical noise was significantly lower than that without mechanical noise for all 12 elderly subjects, for 4 of the 5 patients with stroke, and all 8 patients with diabetic neuropathy. For the 8 patients with diabetes, mechanical noise also significantly reduced the vibrotactile detection threshold at the foot.

CONCLUSIONS:

Reduced vibrotactile sensitivity in older adults, patients with stroke, and patients with diabetic neuropathy can be significantly improved with input mechanical noise. Noise-based techniques and devices may prove useful in overcoming age- and disease-related losses in sensorimotor function.

PMID:
11833019
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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