Effects of postural specific sensorimotor training in patients with chronic low back pain: study protocol for randomised controlled trial

Michael A. McCaskey*, Corina Schuster-Amft, Brigitte Wirth, Eling D. de Bruin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background: Sensorimotor training (SMT) is popularly applied as a preventive or rehabilitative exercise method in various sports and rehabilitation settings. Yet, there is only low-quality evidence on its effect on pain and function. This randomised controlled trial will investigate the effects of a theory-based SMT in rehabilitation of chronic (>3 months) non-specific low back pain (CNLBP) patients. Methods/Design: A pilot study with a parallel, single-blinded, randomised controlled design. Twenty adult patients referred to the clinic for CNLBP treatment will be included, randomised, and allocated to one of two groups. Each group will receive 9 x 30 minutes of standard physiotherapy (PT) treatment. The experimental group will receive an added 15 minutes of SMT. For SMT, proprioceptive postural exercises are performed on a labile platform with adjustable oscillation to provoke training effects on different entry levels. The active comparator group will perform 15 minutes of added sub-effective low-intensity endurance training. Outcomes are assessed on 4 time-points by a treatment blinded tester: eligibility assessment at baseline (BL) 2-4 days prior to intervention, pre-intervention assessment (T0), post-intervention assessment (T1), and at 4 weeks follow-up (FU). At BL, an additional healthy control group (n = 20) will be assessed to allow cross-sectional comparison with symptom-free participants. The main outcomes are self-reported pain (Visual Analogue Scale) and functional status (Oswestry Disability Index). For secondary analysis, postural control variables after an externally perturbed stance on a labile platform are analysed using a video-based marker tracking system and a pressure plate (sagittal joint-angle variability and centre of pressure confidence ellipse). Proprioception is measured as relative cervical joint repositioning error during a head-rotation task. Effect sizes and mixed-model MANOVA (2 groups x 4 measurements for 5 dependent variables) will be calculated. Discussion: This is the first attempt to systematically investigate effects of a theory-based sensorimotor training in patients with CNLBP. It will provide analysis of several postural segments during a dynamic task for quantitative analysis of quality and change of the task performance in relation to changes in pain and functional status.
Original languageEnglish
Article number571
Publication statusPublished - 15 Dec 2015


  • Chronic low back pain
  • Sensorimotor training
  • Proprioception
  • Postural control
  • Functional status
  • Uncontrolled manifold

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