E. Lussier, K. Sire, L. Scanlon, J. Johnson, B. Adams, C. Wutzke

Gonzaga University, Spokane, WA

Balance therapy is used to improve movements after lower limb injuries and vestibular disorders on stable and unstable surfaces. Individuals with COVID-19 have reported long term symptoms and preliminary literature correlates COVID-19 with chronic impairment of balance. PURPOSE: To investigate lower limb muscle activation and stability in healthy adults during the Star Excursion Balance Test (SEBT) on stable and unstable surfaces with and without shoes between individuals with and without COVID-19. METHODS: 17 participants (M:8 F:9, Age: 20.94±0.66, Height (cm): 167.01±10.82, Weight (lbs): 155.8 ±34.68). 8 who had contracted COVID-19 and 9 who did not contract COVID-19. SEBT lower limb reach movements were recorded for ten seconds of ground reaction force (GRF) and center of pressure (CoP) data. Electromyography (EMG) of lower extremity muscles were recorded in four conditions: stable surface with shoes, unstable surface with shoes, stable surface barefoot, unstable surface barefoot. Repeated measures ANOVA determined significance. RESULTS: Differences in CoP and GRF in all directions were found due to footwear (Anterior direction, no shoes, unstable surface distance travelled 2.88+0.62m, Anterior direction, shoes, unstable surface distance travelled 2.66+0.57m; p<0.05). Differences in CoP and GRF data between COVID (C) and non-COVID (S) groups in the lateral direction in combination with footwear (COVID-19, lateral direction, no shoes, unstable surface distance travelled 2.90+0.53, non-COVID-19, lateral direction, no shoes, unstable surface distance travelled 3.60+1.0; p=0.048). No differences in reach direction CoP and GRF due to stability, (p>0.05). No difference between C and S groups for CoP and GRF data in terms of balance for any direction, (p>0.05). No differences within EMG data within variables or conditions. Participants self-reported most difficult trials: unstable no shoes condition, medial and anterior directions. Different surfaces do not affect young adult stability but may affect specific populations. Shoes provide additional stability and influence of footwear should be considered during balance therapy.

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