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Special Test

Sensory Organization Test

The Sensory Organization Test (SOT) is used to evaluate postural instability by measuring the patient’s ability to maintain equilibrium.

It is a “balance device” in which the patient stands on a force plate surrounded by a visual image which objectively measures postural sway and center of pressure under three different visual conditions (i.e., eyes open, eyes closed, and sway referenced) on two different surface conditions (fixed and sway referenced [i.e., surface moves]).

The term “sway referenced” involves the tilting (i.e., moving up and down) of the support surface and/or visual surround area to directly affect the patient’s center of gravity sway.

Sensory Organization Test Protocol

Sensory Organization Test is measuring the patient’s ability to maintain equilibrium.

The test protocol consists of three trials under three different visual conditions (i.e., eyes open, eyes closed, sway referenced) on two different surface conditions (i.e., fixed and sway referenced).

The patient is asked to stand as motionless as possible for each test in a normal stance with his or her feet shoulder-width apart. The test is used to show whether that patient has decreased sensory interaction and/or decreased postural stability.

See Also: Balance Tests

The six different test conditions of the Sensory Organization Test:

  1. Condition 1: Eyes open on firm surface.
  2. Condition 2: Eyes closed on firm surface.
  3. Condition 3: Eyes open with sway referenced visual surround.
  4. Condition 4: Eyes open on sway referenced support surface.
  5. Condition 5: Eyes closed on sway referenced support surface.
  6. Condition 6: Eyes open on sway referenced support surface and surround.
Sensory Organization Test Protocol

The outcome measures are:

1. Equilibrium Score which is the average center of gravity sway for each trial for each condition.
2. The composite equilibrium score which is a weighted average of the six conditions. It is derived from the individual equilibrium scores.
3. The sensory analysis ratios which are computed averages to identify impairments of individual sensory systems.
4. Center of gravity (COG) Alignment which reflects the patient’s COG position relative to the center of the base of support at the start of each trial of the Sensory Organization Test.
5. Strategy Analysis quantifies the relative amount of movement about the ankles (ankle strategy) and about the hips (hip strategy) the patient used to maintain balance during each trial.

See Also: Berg Balance Scale

References & More

  1. Orthopedic Physical Assessment by David J. Magee, 7th Edition.
  2. Shim DB, Song MH, Park HJ. Typical sensory organization test findings and clinical implication in acute vestibular neuritis. Auris Nasus Larynx. 2018 Oct;45(5):916-921. doi: 10.1016/j.anl.2017.11.018. Epub 2017 Dec 16. PMID: 29258799. Pubemd
  3. Grove CR, Whitney SL, Hetzel SJ, Heiderscheit BC, Pyle GM. Validation of a next-generation sensory organization test in adults with and without vestibular dysfunction. J Vestib Res. 2021;31(1):33-45. doi: 10.3233/VES-200040. PMID: 33325418; PMCID: PMC8202570. Pubmed
  4. Graham V, Napier-Dovorany K. Multifactoral measures of fall risk in the visually impaired population: A pilot study. J Bodyw Mov Ther. 2016 Jan;20(1):104-109. doi: 10.1016/j.jbmt.2015.06.012. Epub 2015 Jul 3. PMID: 26891644. Pubmed
Last Reviewed
December 29, 2023
Contributed by
OrthoFixar

Orthofixar does not endorse any treatments, procedures, products, or physicians referenced herein. This information is provided as an educational service and is not intended to serve as medical advice.

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