Background. Visual impairment is associated with decrements in the control of standing postural balance. At the same time, skill in many sports is associated with increased balance skills. Aim. The study hypothesized that athletes with visual impairment would have better balance performance than non-athletes with visual impairment. Methods. To evaluate this hypothesis the postural balance of highly experienced judo players were investigated. Standing postural balance was evaluated in three groups of male participants: judo players with visual impairment, non-athletes with visual impairment, and sighted non-athletes. Balance performance was measured by the Balance Error Scoring System during stance on a firm surface, and during stance on a foam surface. Results. Balance errors were more common during stance on the foam surface, confirming previous findings. No significant difference was found in balance performance between the different participant groups (p > 0.05). Conclusion. The study discusses the results in relation to the existing literature, and in terms of the sensitivity of different types of balance assessment. It will be important to include measures of the quantitative kinematics of body sway to better understand the effects of sports training and skill on the postural control of persons with visual impairment.
- Visual impairment