A new study has identified contributing factors, including sensorimotor processes, associated with impaired postural stability in adults with Prader-Willi syndrome (PWS).

The study, published in Human Movement Science, found that postural impairments in these patients were generally not linked to obesity status.

“This study comprehensively evaluated physical function in adults with PWS by determining the contribution of sensory information to postural stability; and compared postural stability, spatiotemporal gait parameters and muscle strength, between adults with PWS to controls with and without obesity,” the authors wrote. “We hypothesized that compared with controls, adults with PWS would have impaired postural stability and altered sensory integration, lower muscle strength, and gait features indicative of reduced mobility.”

The research team examined postural stability and contributing gait and neuromuscular factors in a cohort of 10 adult patients with PWS, 10 normal weight adults, and 10 obese adults. All participants completed the Sensory Organization Test, from which condition-specific and composite equilibrium scores were calculated.

Read more about PWS comorbidities

The authors also measured quadriceps strength with a dynamometer, performed gait analyses, and calculated gait stability ratios in all participants.

The results revealed that patients with PWS had lower specific and composite equilibrium scores than the normal weight adults and adults with obesity. Patients with PWS were also more likely to fall than individuals in either of the other groups, and they had higher gait stability ratios than normal weight adults and those with obesity.

The team also observed a slower, more cautious, and more stable gait among patients with PWS than in the other groups, and this gait was associated with shorter steps, less quadriceps force, and a lower speed of movement.

The authors conclude that specific aspects of physical function, such as quadriceps torque and rate of torque development, could be targeted in interventions to help patients with PWS improve balance and mobility and reduce falls.


Rubin D, Rose DJ, Escano DL, Holmes SC, Garcia SA, Pamukoff DN. Contributing factors to postural stability in Prader-Willi syndrome. Hum Mov Sci. Published online July 27, 2023. doi:10.1016/j.humov.2023.103125