The efficacy of the compensatory approaches might be limited due to the cognitive involvement to interpret such compensatory sensory cues. The objective of this study is to test the hypothesis that the plantar cutaneous augmentation is more effective than providing compensatory sensory cues on improving postural regulation, when plantar cutaneous feedback is reduced. In our experiments, six healthy human subjects were asked to maintain their balance on a lateral balance board for as long as possible, until the balance board contacted the ground, for 240 trials with five interventions. During these experiments, subjects were instructed to close their eyes to increase dependency on plantar cutaneous feedback for balancing. Foam pad was also added on the board to emulate the condition of reduced plantar cutaneous feedback. The effects of tactile augmentation from the foot sole or the palm on standing balance were tested by applying transcutaneous electrical stimulation on the calcaneal or ulnar nerve during the balance board tests, with and without a cognitively-challenging counting task. Experimental results indicate that the plantar cutaneous augmentation was effective on improving balance only with cognitive load, while the palmar cutaneous augmentation was effective only without cognitive load. This result suggests that the location of sensory augmentation should be carefully determined according to the attentional demands.
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