Lidiane Souza, Thiago Lemos, Débora C. Silva, José M. de Oliveira, José F. Guedes Corrêa, Paulo L. Tavares, Laura A. Oliveira, Erika C. Rodrigues, Claudia D. Vargas
Objective: To investigate whether a sensorimotor deficit of the upper limb following a brachial plexus injury (BPI) affects the upright balance. Design: Eleven patients with a unilateral BPI and 11 healthy subjects were recruited. The balance assessment included the Berg Balance Scale (BBS), the number of feet touches on the ground while performing a 60 s single-leg stance and posturographic assessment (eyes open and feet placed hip-width apart during a single 60 s trial). The body weight distribution (BWD) between the legs was estimated from the center of pressure (COP) lateral position. The COP variability was quantified in the anterior-posterior and lateral directions. Results: BPI patients presented lower BBS scores (p = 0.048) and a higher frequency of feet touches during the single-leg stance (p = 0.042) compared with those of the healthy subjects. An asymmetric BWD toward the side opposite the affected arm was shown by 73% of BPI patients. Finally, higher COP variability was observed in BPI patients compared with healthy subjects for anterior-posterior (p = 0.020), but not for lateral direction (p = 0.818). Conclusions: This study demonstrates that upper limb sensorimotor deficits following BPI affect body balance, serving as a warning for the clinical community about the need to prevent and treat the secondary outcomes of this condition.