A quantitative measure of postural sway deficits in schizophrenia

Cherie L. Marvel, Barbara L. Schwartz, Richard B. Rosse

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


Clinicians rely on observational methods to assess obvious signs of postural abnormalities in schizophrenia, yet subtle signs of postural deficits may go unnoticed. Posture is controlled, in large part, by the cerebellum, which has been implicated in numerous reports of structural and functional deficits in schizophrenia. Given the possibility of an underlying disruption of cerebellar function in schizophrenia, this study used an objective, quantitative measure to assess the magnitude of postural stability in this disorder. A total of 36 schizophrenia patients and 36 non-psychiatric age-matched controls stood on a pressure-sensitive platform that recorded shifts in weight (body sway) through pressure points in the feet. Patients demonstrated more postural sway than did healthy controls (p<0.01). When patients with noticeable signs of tardive dyskinesia were removed from analyses, group differences remained (p<0.01). There was no significant correlation between neuroleptic medication level and degree of postural sway (r=0.16, p=0.37). These results indicate that patients with schizophrenia have subtle, yet quantifiable, disturbances in the control of posture and balance. Quantitative measures of postural sway may provide a more sensitive means of detecting disturbances of movement than do standard clinical observations alone.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)363-372
Number of pages10
JournalSchizophrenia Research
Issue number2-3
StatePublished - Jun 1 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Balance
  • Cerebellum
  • Movement
  • Posture
  • Schizophrenia
  • Sway

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry


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