Postural control was assessed on a tilting platform system in 20 patients with idiopathic Parkinson's disease and 20 age-matched controls. The amount of information provided by vision and lower limb proprioception was varied during the experiment to investigate the influence of changes in sensory cues on postural control. The patient group with clinical evidence of impaired postural control (Hoehn and Yahr III) had significantly higher sway scores over all sensory conditions than either the Hoehn and Yahr II group or controls. The pattern of sway scores indicated that no obvious deficit in the quality, or processing, of sensory information was responsible for the postural instability observed in this group. The patients in both Hoehn and Yahr groups were also able to respond appropriately to potentially destabilising sensory conflict situations and significantly improved their sway scores when provided with visual feedback of body sway. The results indicate that in Parkinson's disease, the main site of dysfunction in postural control is likely to be at a central motor level.
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