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Department of Rehabilitation Medicine

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Sensory Control of Balance: A Comparison of Children with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders to Children with Typical Development


Jirikowic TL, McCoy SW, Lubetzky-Vilnay A, Price R, Ciol MA, Kartin D, Hsu L-Y, Gendler B, Astley SA



Publication Info:

Journal Of Population Therapeutics And Clinical Pharmacology, 20(3):e212-e228


BACKGROUND: Inefficient central processing and integration of visual, vestibular, and somatosensory information may contribute to poor balance and diminished postural control in children with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD).
OBJECTIVES: This pilot study examined sensorimotor performance and the sensory control of balance using a battery of clinical tests in combination with an experimental laboratory assessment that quantifies sensory subsystem use (i.e., sensory weighting) among a systematically diagnosed sample of children with FASD and children with typical development.
METHODS: Using a case-control design, 10 children with FASD (8.0-15.9 years; 20% female) were compared to 10 age- and sex-matched controls on standardized clinical measures and on kinematic outcomes from the Multimodal Balance Entrainment Response system (MuMBER), a computerized laboratory assessment whereby visual, vestibular, and somatosensory input is manipulated at different frequencies during standing balance.
RESULTS: Children with FASD showed poorer sensorimotor performance across clinical outcomes with significant group differences (p < .05) on parent-reported movement behaviors (Sensory Processing Measure and Movement Assessment Battery for Children-2 Checklist) and performance on the Dynamic Gait Index. Experimental kinematic outcomes yielded statistically significant group differences (p <.10) on a small proportion of somatosensory and vestibular sensory weighting fractions and postural sway velocity in response to the manipulation of sensory input.
CONCLUSIONS: Preliminary findings showed small group differences in sensorimotor and sensory weighting behaviors, specifically those that rely on the integration of vestibular sensation. Differences must be examined and replicated with a larger sample of children with FASD to understand the impact on balance control and functional sensorimotor behaviors.
PMID: 24163126

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