Vibrating Insoles Could Improve Walking Gait
When researchers put a urethane foam insole with piezo-electric actuators delivering subsensory vibratory noise stimulation to the soles of the feet of 12 healthy community-dwelling elderly volunteers aged 65 ÛÒ 90 years, the vibratory insoles significantly improved performance on measures of balance and gait that are associated with falls.
The objective of this study was to test whether subsensory vibratory noise applied to the sole of the foot using a novel piezo-electric vibratory insole, can significantly improve sensation, enhance balance, and reduce gait variability in elderly people.
Piezoelectricity is electrical energy produced from mechanical pressure (including motions such as walking). When pressure is applied to an object, a negative charge is produced on the expanded side and a positive charge on the compressed side. Once the pressure is relieved, electrical current flows across the material.
A piezo-electric transducer comprises a “crystal” sandwiched between two metal plates. When a sound wave strikes one or both of the plates, the plates vibrate. My guess is the vibration of the insoles somehow stimulates an older person to walk better or at least pay attention to their walking.
Scientists weigh in!