Maintenance of standing balance requires that sensory inputs be organized with the motor system. Current data regarding the influence of sensory inputs on standing balance in children with developmental coordination disorder (DCD) are limited. This study compared the influence of sensory organization and each sensory input on the standing stability between a group of 20 children, 4-6 years old, with DCD and an age- and gender-matched control group of 20 children. Three types of visual inputs (eyes open, eyes closed, or unreliable vision) and two types of somatosensory inputs (fixed or compliant foot support) were varied factorially to yield six sensory conditions. Standing stability was measured with a Kistler force plate for 30 s and expressed as the center of pressure sway area. The results showed that the standing stability of the children with DCD was significantly poorer than that of the control children under all sensory conditions, especially when the somatosensory input was unreliable (compliant foot support) compared to when it was reliable (fixed foot support). The effectiveness of an individual sensory system, when it was the dominant source of sensory input, did not significantly differ between the groups. The results suggest that children with DCD experience more difficulty coping with altered sensory inputs, and that such difficulty is more likely due to a deficit in sensory organization rather than compromised effectiveness of individual sensory systems.
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