Evaluation of Time-to-Contact Measures for Assessing Postural Stability

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Jeffrey M. Haddad University of Massachusetts

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Jeff L. Gagnon University of Massachusetts
Springfi eld College

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Christopher J. Hasson University of Massachusetts

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Richard E.A. Van Emmerik University of Massachusetts

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Joseph Hamill University of Massachusetts

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Postural stability has traditionally been examined through spatial measures of the center of mass (CoM) or center of pressure (CoP), where larger amounts of CoM or CoP movements are considered signs of postural instability. However, for stabilization, the postural control system may utilize additional information about the CoM or CoP such as velocity, acceleration, and the temporal margin to a stability boundary. Postural time-to-contact (TtC) is a variable that can take into account this additional information about the CoM or CoP. Postural TtC is the time it would take the CoM or CoP, given its instantaneous trajectory, to contact a stability boundary. This is essentially the time the system has to reverse any perturbation before stance is threatened. Although this measure shows promise in assessing postural stability, the TtC values derived between studies are highly ambiguous due to major differences in how they are calculated. In this study, various methodologies used to assess postural TtC were compared during quiet stance and induced-sway conditions. The effects of the different methodologies on TtC values will be assessed, and issues regarding the interpretation of TtC data will also be discussed.

Biomechanics and Motor Control Laboratories, Dept. of Exercise Science, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA 01003

Math, Physics, and Computer Science Dept., Springfield College, Springfield, MA 01109.

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