Shoes with rocker bottom soles are utilized by persons with diabetic peripheral neuropathy to reduce plantar pressures during gait. This population also has a high risk for falls. This study analyzed the effects of shoes with rocker bottom soles on the postural response during perturbed stance. Participants were 20 healthy subjects (16 women, 4 men) ages 22-25 years. Canvas shoes were modified by the addition of crepe sole material to represent two forms of rocker bottom shoes and a control shoe. Subjects stood on a dynamic force plate programmed to move backward at a velocity that produced an automatic postural response without stepping. Force plate data were collected for five trials per shoe type. Sway variables for center of pressure (COP) and center of mass (COM) included: mean sway amplitude, sway variance, time to peak, anterior and posterior peak velocities, functional stability margin, and peak duration time. Compared to control, both the experimental shoes had significantly larger COP and COM values for mean sway amplitude, sway variance and peak duration. The functional stability margins were significantly smaller for the experimental shoes while their anterior and posterior peak velocities were slower and time to peaks were significantly longer. In young healthy adults, shoes with rocker bottom soles had a destabilizing effect to perturbed stance, thereby increasing the potential for imbalance. These results raise concerns that footwear with rocker bottom sole modifications to accommodate an insensate foot may increase the risk of falls. © 2009 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
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