Deliberately light interpersonal touch as an aid to balance control in neurologic conditions

Leif Johannsen, Evelyn McKenzie, Melanie Brown, Mark S. Redfern, Alan M. Wing

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


PURPOSE: We aimed to quantify the benefit of externally provided deliberately light interpersonal touch (IPT) on body sway in neurological patients. 

DESIGN: IPT effect on sway was assessed experimentally across differing contacting conditions in a group of 12 patients with Parkinson's disease and a group of 11 patients with chronic hemiparetic stroke. 

METHODS: A pressure plate recorded sway when IPT was provided by a healthcare professional at various locations on a patient's back. 

FINDINGS: Interpersonal touch on the back reduced anteroposterior body sway in both groups. Numerically, IPT was more effective when applied more superior on the back, specifically at shoulder level, and when applied at two contact locations simultaneously. 

CONCLUSION: Our findings demonstrate the benefit of deliberately light IPT on the back to facilitate patients' postural stability. 

CLINICAL RELEVANCE: Deliberately light IPT resembles a manual handling strategy which minimizes load imposed on healthcare professionals when providing balance support, while it facilitates patients' own sensorimotor control of body balance during standing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)131-138
Number of pages8
JournalRehabilitation Nursing
Issue number3
Early online date27 Dec 2014
Publication statusPublished - May 2017


  • Interpersonal coordination
  • light touch
  • body balance control
  • hemiparetic stroke
  • Parkinson's disease

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