Delayed Compensatory Postural Adjustments After Lateral Perturbations Contribute to the Reduced Ability of Older Adults to Control Body Balance

in Motor Control
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The goal of this study was to investigate the timing of compensatory postural adjustments in older adults during body perturbations in the mediolateral direction, circumstances that increase their risk of falls. The latencies of leg and trunk muscle activation to body perturbations at the shoulder level and variables of center of pressure excursion, which characterize postural stability, were analyzed in 40 older adults (nonfallers and fallers evenly split) and in 20 young participants. The older adults exhibited longer latencies of muscular activation in eight out of 15 postural muscles as compared with young participants; for three muscles, the latencies were longer for the older fallers than nonfallers. Simultaneously, the time for the center of pressure displacement reached its peak after the perturbation was significant longer in both groups of older adults. The observed delays in compensatory postural adjustments may affect the older adults’ ability to prompt control body balance after postural disturbances and predispose them to falls.

Claudino is with the Dept. of Physical Therapy, University Center Estácio de Sá, São Jose, Santa Catarina, Brazil. dos Santos is with the Dept. of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Science, University of Kansas Medical Center, Kansas City, KS. Mazo is with the Dept. of Physical Education, Universidade do Estado de Santa Catarina, Florianópolis, Santa Catarina, Brazil.

Address author correspondence to Renato Claudino at Renatuss416@hotmail.com.
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