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Erwin E.H. van Wegen, Richard E.A. van Emmerik, Robert C. Wagenaar and Terry Ellis

Postural instability is a major problem in patients with Parkinson's disease (PD). We examined balance control in PD by using center of pressure (CP) variability and time-to-contact to investigate boundary relevant postural control behavior under quiet stance leaning conditions. Postural orientation was manipulated by having patients (n = 10) and healthy older controls (n = 7)lean Forward and backward with varying degrees of lean on a force platform. The subjects were instructed to lean forward or backward (either halfway or as far as possible) without bending their hips or lifting their heels or toes off the ground. Time-to-contact of the CP with the geometric stability boundary defined by the feet as well as CP position and variability were analyzed. Mediolateral CP variability was increased in the patients with PD. Medio-lateral average time-to-contact was decreased in the patients but not so in the antcrior-posterior direction. In contrast to the CP variability, the medio-lateral variability of time-lo-contact was lower in the patients. Patients as well as healthy older controls responded to lean manipulations with an increase in CP variability. Boundary relevant CP measures thus show clear changes in control strategies and confirm the role of lateral instability in PD.