Various studies have suggested that postural sway is controlled by at least two subsystems. Rambling-Trembling analysis is a widely accepted methodology to dissociate the signals generated by these two hypothetical subsystems. The core assumption of this method is based on the equilibrium point hypothesis which suggests that the central nervous system preserves upright standing by transiently shifting the center of pressure (COP) from one equilibrium point to another. The trajectory generated by this shifting is referred to as rambling and its difference from the original COP signal is referred to as trembling. In this study we showed that these two components of COP are differentially affected when standing with external loads. Using Detrended Fluctuation analysis, we compared the pattern of these two signals in different configurations of body loading. Our findings suggest that by applying an external load, the dynamics of the trembling component is altered independently of the area of postural sway and also independently of the rambling component. The dynamics of rambling changed only during the backloading condition in which the postural sway area also substantially increased. It can be suggested that during loaded standing, the trembling mechanism (which is suggested to be activated by peripheral mechanisms and reflexes) is altered without affecting the central influence on the shifts of the equilibrium point.
Tahayori, Riley, Koceja and Hong are with the Dept. of Kinesiology, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN. Mahmoudian is with the Catholic University of Daegu, Physiotherapy Department, Republic of Korea.