Liam Dessureault

University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

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Publications (3)6.66 Total impact

  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: In the present report, we extend our previous observations on the effect of age on postural stabilization from fingertip contact (Exp Brain Res 157 (2004) 275) to examine the possible influence of sensory thresholds measured at the fingertip on the magnitude of contact forces. Participants (young, n=25, 19-32 years; old, n=35, 60-86 years) underwent psychophysical testing of the right index finger to determine thresholds for spatial acuity, pressure sensitivity and kinesthetic acuity. Spatial acuity was determined from the ability to detect gaps of different widths, while Semmes-Weinstein monofilaments were used for pressure sensitivity. Kinesthetic acuity was determined by asking participants to discriminate plates of different thicknesses using a thumb-index precision grip. These tests were selected on the basis that each reflected different sensory coding mechanisms (resolution of spatial stimuli, detection of mechanical forces and integration of multi-sensory inputs for hand conformation) and thus provided specific information about the integrity and function of mechanoreceptive afferents innervating the hand. After log transformation, thresholds were first examined to determine the influence of age (young and old) and gender (male, female) on tactile acuity. Sensory thresholds were then entered into multiple linear regression models to examine their ability to predict fingertip contact forces (normal and tangential) applied to a smooth surface when subjects stood with eyes closed on either a firm or a compliant support surface. As expected, age exerted a significant effect (p<0.01) on all three thresholds, but its impact was greater on spatial acuity than on pressure sensitivity or kinesthetic acuity. Gender had a marginal impact on pressure sensitivity thresholds only. The regression analyses revealed that tactile thresholds determined at the index fingertip accounted for a substantial proportion of the variance (up to 30%) seen in the contact forces deployed on the touch-plate, especially those exerted in the normal direction. The same analyses further revealed that much of the variance explained by the models arose from inter-individual differences in tactile spatial acuity and not from differences in pressure sensitivity or in kinesthetic acuity. Thus, of all three tests, the spatial acuity task was the most sensitive at detecting differences in hand sensibility both within and between age groups and, accordingly, was also better at predicting the magnitude of fingertip forces deployed for postural stabilization. Since spatial acuity is critically dependent upon innervation density, we conclude that the degree of functional innervation at the fingertip was likely an important factor in determining the capacity of older participants to use contact cues for stability purposes, forcing the most affected individuals to exert unusually high pressures in order to achieve stabilization in the presence of reduced tactile inputs arising from contact with the touched surface.
    Experimental Brain Research 07/2005; 164(2):155-64. · 2.22 Impact Factor
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: In the present report, we extend our previous observations on the effect of age on postural stabilization from fingertip contact (Exp Brain Res 157 (2004) 275) to examine the possible influence of sensory thresholds measured at the fingertip on the magnitude of contact forces. Participants (young, n=25, 19–32years; old, n=35, 60–86years) underwent psychophysical testing of the right index finger to determine thresholds for spatial acuity, pressure sensitivity and kinesthetic acuity. Spatial acuity was determined from the ability to detect gaps of different widths, while Semmes–Weinstein monofilaments were used for pressure sensitivity. Kinesthetic acuity was determined by asking participants to discriminate plates of different thicknesses using a thumb-index precision grip. These tests were selected on the basis that each reflected different sensory coding mechanisms (resolution of spatial stimuli, detection of mechanical forces and integration of multi-sensory inputs for hand conformation) and thus provided specific information about the integrity and function of mechanoreceptive afferents innervating the hand. After log transformation, thresholds were first examined to determine the influence of age (young and old) and gender (male, female) on tactile acuity. Sensory thresholds were then entered into multiple linear regression models to examine their ability to predict fingertip contact forces (normal and tangential) applied to a smooth surface when subjects stood with eyes closed on either a firm or a compliant support surface. As expected, age exerted a significant effect (p
    Experimental Brain Research 01/2005; 164(2):155-164. · 2.22 Impact Factor
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: In this study, we compared the ability of young (n=10, 19-32 years) and older subjects (n=35, 60-86 years) to use fingertip contact as a balance aid during quiet stance under various conditions to determine whether aging would influence contact strategies. Experimental trials (duration, 60 s) included two visual conditions (vision; no vision), three fingertip contact conditions (no touch; smooth touch; rough touch) and two support surface conditions (firm; foam). In trials with contact, participants were required to maintain a light contact with their right index fingertip on an instrumented touch-plate. Subjects were not constrained to exert minimal contact force, although they were aware that the touch-plate was not designed for physical support. From displacements of the centre of foot pressure (COP), mean sway amplitude (MSA) was computed in the anterior-posterior (COP(AP)) and medio-lateral (COP(ML)) directions. Subjective estimates of stability were also obtained by asking participants to rate perceived stability on a visual analog scale in each condition. Mean normal force (FN) and mean resultant tangential force (F(TAN)) were computed from contact force data applied on the touch plate. In both age groups, touch conditions had a substantial effect on MSA in the AP direction under both support surface conditions, with reductions averaging between 40-55% when touch was allowed. Reductions in the ML direction, though less important (8-12% on average), were nevertheless highly significant, especially in the older subjects when standing on the foam. In the two groups, vision and texture had only marginal impact on MSA computed on both support surfaces. Contrasting with sway measurements, stability ratings were highly influenced by visual conditions in both age groups. Only in conditions of deficient support (foam surface) and absent vision did the perceived effect of touch exceed that of vision. Age had a major impact, however, on contact forces deployed during trials with touch. While individuals in the young group typically produced forces of <1 N (mean FN, 0.32+/-0.15 N) to achieve postural stabilization, older subjects tended to use higher, though not too excessive, contact forces (mean FN, 1.21+/-0.75 N) under the same conditions. From these findings, we conclude that the ability to use contact cues from the fingertip as a source of sensory information to improve postural stability is largely preserved in healthy older adults. The increase in contact force deployed by older individuals to achieve postural stabilization is interpreted as a compensatory strategy to help overcome age-related loss in tactile sensation, an issue that will be further addressed in a companion paper.
    Experimental Brain Research 08/2004; 157(3):275-85. · 2.22 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

55 Citations
6.66 Total Impact Points

Top Journals

Institutions

  • 2004–2005
    • University of Ottawa
      • School of Rehabilitation Sciences
      Ottawa, Ontario, Canada