The maintenance of an upright posture in man requires information from vision, the labyrinth, proprioception and plantar mechanosensors. In order to evaluate the role of the labyrinth, proprioception and plantar mechanosensors, stabilometry was performed in subjects with closed eyes. Ten patients with bilateral severe or complete labyrinthine paresis were studied, as well as 9 patients with severe proprioceptive disorders and 10 normal healthy persons whose plantar mechanosensors were anesthetized by hypothermia. Both the area of sway and the total locus length (accumulated shift distance length) were evaluated. On closing eyes, in patients with labyrinthine disorders demonstrated that the area of sway increased more than length. On the other hand, in patients with proprioceptive disorders, length increased more than the area. In plantar anesthetized subjects, similar to the labyrinthine disorder cases, the area of sway increased more than length. These findings suggest that the labyrinth is a main monitor of the area of body sway, while proprioception is a principle monitor of the velocity of body movement of sway (or locus length). The plantar mechanosensor monitors the area of body sway similar to the labyrinth, but works less than the labyrinth. The locus length is the distance per minute and reflects the velocity of body sway. Thus, the length per area is a parameter for the velocity of body sway per area. Since proprioceptive disorders increase both the locus length and the length per area, present findings suggest that if proprioception is damaged, the body begins to move faster. Compensated labyrinthine disorders have a tendency to increase the length per area, indicating that if a labyrinthine disorder is compensated, the body adapts and moves faster to maintain an upright posture.
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