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J Am Acad Nurse Pract. 2012 Jun;24(6):375-81. doi: 10.1111/j.1745-7599.2012.00699.x. Epub 2012 Mar 29.

Postural balance in young adults: the role of visual, vestibular and somatosensory systems.

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St. Rose Dominican Hospital, Henderson, Nevada, USA.



The purpose of the study is to examine what sensory system predominates to maintain balance (e.g., visual, vestibular, and somatosensory) among people in their twenties and thirties.


A subset of individuals from a larger descriptive cross-sectional study was assessed. A sample of 194 (males = 28%, females = 72%) young adults in the second and third decades of life had anthropometric measurements (height, weight, waist circumference, hip circumference, and leg length) taken and body mass index and waist-to-hip ratio were calculated. Balance was assessed using the NeuroCom Balance Master machine.


There was a significant difference among the three sensory systems for postural balance among the young population, F (2, 576) = 111.741, p < .001. Post hoc Bonferroni tests were maintained at the 0.05 level which showed significance for the visual system compared to vestibular and somatosensory system: visual (M = 93.7, SD = 2.07); vestibular (M = 90.4, SD = 2.74); and somatosensory (M = 90.0, SD = 3.13). Based on the results, the visual system is the predominant sensory system used by young adults to maintained optimal postural balance. SIGNIFICANCE FOR PRACTICE: There is very little known about balance of younger adults. If balance issues are identified early in adult life it is possible to prevent exacerbation of balance decline as one age. If nurse practitioners are aware of what dominant sensory systems for balance young adults use, perhaps strategies to preserve these can avoid falls as they age.

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