Balance Functional Assessment in People with Visual Impairment

Open access


The aims of this study were twofold: to assess the level of balance of people with visual impairment against the BOT-2 standard scores for the able-bodied, and to identify in which trials subjects had the greatest difficulties in maintaining balance with respect to the degree of vision loss and age categories. One hundred twenty-seven subjects with visual impairment aged 6-16 years, participated in the study (68 girls and 59 boys). The division for partially sighted people (61) and the blind (66) was made according to the WHO classification. Functional balance assessment was made using a balance subtest from the Bruininks-Oseretsky test. Significant relationships were noticed between age and the level of balance (χ2 = 8.35 p <0,05), as well as between the degree of vision loss and the level of balance (χ2 = 24.53 p <0,001). The level of balance of almost all blind subjects was below (20%) or well-below (60%) the average for the able-bodied. The subjects’ ability to maintain balance was not dependent on gender and was associated primarily with the degree of visual impairment and age. Partially sighted people had better balance than the blind and the decrease in visual acuity resulted in reduction of balance skills. The lowest level of balance was observed in blind students aged 7-11 years. Elaborating physical fitness improvement programs for children and adolescents with visual impairment, diversity of age, the degree of vision loss and limitations of ablility to maintain balance should be taken into account.

Adelson E, Fraiberg S. Gross motor development in infants blind from birth. Child Dev, 1974; 45(1): 114-126

Brambring M. Divergent development of gross motor skills in children who are blind or sighted. J Visual Impair Blin, 2006; 100(10): 620-634

Brambring M. Divergent development of manual skills in children who are blind or sighted. J Visual Impair Blin, 2007; 101(4): 212-225

Browne JE, O’Hare NJ. Review of the different methods for assessing standing balance. Rehabil Med, 2002; 6(1): 72-76

Bruininks RH, Bruininks BD. Bruininks-Oseretsky Test of Motor Proficiency. Second Edition. Manual. NCS Pearson, Minneapolis; 2005

Gawlik K. The influence of visual impairment on selected aspects of somatic and motor development of children and adolescents. AWF Katowice; 2008

Giagazoglou P, Amiridis IG, Zafeiridis A, Thimara M, Kouvelioti V, Kellis E. Static balance control and lower limb strength in blind and sighted women. Eur J Appl Physiol, 2009; 107(5): 571-579

Gipsman S. Effect of visual condition on use of proprioceptive cues in performing a balance task. J Vis Impair Blin, 1981; 75(2): 50-54

Golema M. Characteristics of the process to maintain body balance illustrated using a stabilograph. Studia i Monografie, AWF Wrocław, 64; 2002

Held-Ziółkowska M. Static and dynamic body balance. Mag Otorynolaryngol, 2006; 5(2): 39-57

Horvat M, Ray C, Ramsey VK, Miszko T, Keeney R, Blasch BB. Compensatory analysis and strategies for balance in individuals with visual impairments. J Vis Impair Blind, 2003; 97: 695–703

Houwen S, Visscher C, Hartman E, Lemmink KAPM. Gross motor skills and sports participation of children with visual impairments. Res Q Exerc Sport, 2007; 78(2): 16-23

Houwen S, Visscher C, Lemmink KAPM, Hartman E. Motor skill performance of school-age children with visual impairments. Dev Med Child Neurol, 2008; 50(2): 139-145

Houwen S, Hartman E, Visscher C. Physical Activity and Motor Skills in Children with and without Visual Impairments. Med Sci Sports Exerc, 2009a; 41(1): 103-109

Houwen S, Visscher C, Lemmink KAPM, Hartman E. Motor Skill Performance of Children and Adolescents with Visual Impairments: A Review. Except Child, 2009b; 75(4): 464-492

Johnson-Kramer C, Sherwood D, French R, Ganahal MY. Performance and learning of a dynamic balance task by visually impaired children. Clinical Kinesiology, 1992; Winter: 3-6

Juodžbalienė V, Muckus K. The influence of degree of visual impairment on psychomotor reaction and equilibrium maintenance of adolescents. Medicina (Kaunas), 2006; 42(1): 49-56

Lieberman LJ, Stuart ME, Hand K, Robinson B. An investigation of the motivational effects of talking pedometers among youth with visual impairments and deaf-blindness. J Visual Impair Blin, 2006; 100(12): 726–736

Ljach W. Developing motor skills of children and adolescents. COS, Warszawa; 2003

Nakata H, Yabe K. Automatic postural response systems in individuals with congenital total blindness. Gait Posture, 2001; 14: 36-43

Nowotny J, Nowotny-Czupryna O, Czupryna K. Functional testing in physiotherapy. Pol J Physiother, 2009; 9(3): 245-257

Pereira LM. Spatial concepts and balance performance: Motor learning in blind and visually impaired children. J Vis Impair Blind, 1990; 84: 109-111

Poliszczuk T, Rutkowska I. Comparative analysis of balance skills of blind girls and rhythmic gymnasts. In: Nowocień J. (ed.) Społeczno - edukacyjne oblicza olimpizmu, AWF Warszawa, 157-163; 2006

Ray CT, Wolf SL. Gender differences and the risk of falls in individuals with profound vision loss. J Vis Impair Blin, 2010; 104(5): 311-316

Skaggs S, Hopper C. Individuals with visual impairments: A review of psychomotor behavior. Adapt Phys Act Q, 1996; 13(1): 16-26

Wade M, Jones G. The Role of Vision and Spatial Orientation in the Maintenance of Posture. Phys Ther, 1997; 77(6): 619-628

WHO. ICD-10 Version:2010, 2010. Available at:; accessed on 20.10.2012

Wyver SR, Livesey DJ. Kinaesthetic sensitivity and motor skills of school-aged children with a congenital visual impairment. Br J Vis Impair, 2003; 21(1): 25-31

Journal of Human Kinetics

The Journal of Academy of Physical Education in Katowice

Journal Information

IMPACT FACTOR 2017: 1.174
5-year IMPACT FACTOR: 1.634

CiteScore 2017: 1.31

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2017: 0.516
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2017: 0.906

Cited By


All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 0 0 0
Full Text Views 150 150 34
PDF Downloads 52 52 14