Self-perceived unsteadiness matches fall risk in neuropathy patients
medwireNews: Researchers have found that people’s own perception of unsteadiness matches objective measures of balance and gait, making it a good indicator of fall risk in patients with diabetic peripheral neuropathy.
“The question that remains is to what extent the psychological factors, such as self-perceived unsteadiness and fear of falling, actually drive changes in gait characteristics, or whether the experienced problems with gait and balance largely determine the patient’s subjective appraisal of feeling unsteady,” say Neil Reeves (Manchester Metropolitan University, UK) and co-researchers.
Among all study participants – 15 diabetes patients with and 15 without peripheral neuropathy, and 19 matched controls – self-perceived unsteadiness most strongly correlated with gait velocity and step length.
And both these measures were significantly lower in the diabetic neuropathy patients than in the control group, suggesting that they “are not only aware of themselves as being unsteady but actually attempt to self-regulate their unsteadiness by walking more slowly and taking shorter steps,” write the researchers in Diabetes Care.
Severity of neuropathy and center of mass anterior–posterior range also correlated strongly with perceived unsteadiness, and there were weaker but still significant correlations for anterior and posterior maximum dynamic sway.
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