The Journal of International
Advanced Otology
Original Article

Influence of Auditory Information on Postural Control During Different Gait Tasks in the Elderly


Department of Otolaryngology at UKB, University of Berlin Charité Medical School, Berlin, Germany

J Int Adv Otol 2023; 19: 22-27
DOI: 10.5152/iao.2023.22671
Read: 967 Downloads: 265 Published: 01 January 2023

BACKGROUND: Hearing loss is frequently associated with reduced postural control. This is possibly not only related to simultaneous pathophysiological changes within the hearing and vestibular system. The auditory input itself could provide helpful information for maintaining postural control. Previous studies of our group already showed that continuous or interrupted white noise can significantly improve postural control during gait conditions in young healthy individuals. The present study aimed at investigating if those effects are also active in the elderly.

METHODS: Elderly volunteers (mean age 67 years) without any history of disorders to influence gait performance successfully completed 5 walking tasks under 4 different acoustic conditions. Angular sway velocity was measured close to the center of gravity with the Vertiguard® system.

RESULTS: Significant changes in body sway velocity were found in 4 of 5 investigated tasks. Only “walking with turning head in rhythm” was not associated with any change in the acoustic input. The sway increased by 8.9% during “walking with open eyes” in the pitch direction and by 11.5% during “tandem walking” in the roll direction if ear protection was applied. The sway was reduced by 9.1% during “walking over barriers” in the pitch direction and by 16.7% in the roll direction during “walking with closed eyes” if a stationary source of continuous white noise was presented.

CONCLUSION: The data of the present study indicate that auditory information could significantly alter postural control during walking in the elderly. Continuous white noise seems to be helpful for maintaining balance in different walking tasks.

Cite this article as: Basta D, Borsellino L, Anton K, Ernst A. Influence of auditory information on postural control during different gait tasks in the elderly. J Int Adv Otol. 2023;19(1):22-27.

EISSN 2148-3817