Balance Impairments after Brachial Plexus Injury as Assessed through Clinical and Posturographic Evaluation

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.

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