The Influence of Neck Pain on Sensorimotor Function in the Elderly
SOURCE: Arch Gerontol Geriatr. 2012 (Nov); 55 (3): 667–672
Sureeporn Uthaikhup, Gwendolen Jull, Somporn Sungkarat, Julia Treleaven
Department of Physical Therapy,
Faculty of Associated Medical Sciences,
Chiang Mai University,
Greater disturbances in sensorimotor control have been demonstrated in younger to middle aged groups. However, it is unknown whether or not the impairments documented in these populations can be extrapolated to elders with neck pain. The aim of this study was to investigate the influence of neck pain on sensorimotor function in elders. Twenty elders with neck pain (12 women and 8 men) and 20 healthy elder controls (14 women and 6 men) aged 65 years and over were recruited from the general community. Tests for sensorimotor function included; cervical joint position sense (JPS); computerised rod-and-frame test (RFT); smooth pursuit neck torsion test (SPNT); standing balance (under conditions of eyes open, eyes closed on firm and soft surfaces in comfortable stance); step test and ten-meter walk test with and without head movement.
Elders with neck pain had greater deficits in the majority of sensorimotor function tests after controlling for effects of age and comorbidities. Significant differences were found in the SPNT (p<0.01), error in the RFT (frame angled at 10° and 15° anticlockwise) (p<0.05), standing balance (amplitude of sway) – eyes open on a firm surface in the medio-lateral (ML) direction (p=0.03), and total number of steps on the step test, both left and right sides (p<0.01).
Elders with neck pain have greater sensorimotor disturbances than elders without neck pain, supporting a contribution of altered afferent information originating from the cervical spine to such disturbances. The findings may inform falls prevention and management programs.
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