Postural instability and falls are common and devastating features of ageing and many neurological, visual, vestibular or orthopedic disorders. Current management of these problems is hampered by the subjective and variable nature of the available clinical balance measures. In this narrative review, we discuss the clinical utility of posturography as a more objective and quantitative measure of balance and postural instability, focusing on several areas where clinicians presently experience the greatest difficulties in managing their patients: (a) to make an appropriate differential diagnosis in patients presenting with falls or balance impairment; (b) to reliably identify those subjects who are at risk of falling; (c) to objectively and quantitatively document the outcome of therapeutic interventions; and (d) to gain a better pathophysiological understanding of postural instability and falls, as a basis for the development of improved treatment strategies to prevent falling. In each of these fields, posturography offers several theoretical advantages and, when applied correctly, provides a useful tool to gain a better understanding of pathophysiological mechanisms in patients with balance disorders, at the group level. However, based on the available evidence, none of the existing techniques is currently able to significantly influence the clinical decision making in individual patients. We critically review the shortcomings of posturography as it is presently used, and conclude with several recommendations for future research.
- Postural control
- Clinical utility