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J Biomech. 2000 Dec;33(12):1733-7.

Postural control of trunk during unstable sitting.

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Biomechanics Research Laboratory, Department of Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation, Yale University School of Medicine, P.O. Box 208071, 333 Cedar Street, 06520-8071, New Haven, CT, USA.


A method for quantifying postural control of the lumbar spine during unstable sitting was developed. The unstable seat apparatus was equipped with leg and foot supports to isolate the control of the lumbar spine and trunk from the adjustments in the lower body joints. Polyester resin hemispheres with decreasing diameters were attached to the bottom of the seat to achieve increasing levels of task difficulty. The seat was placed on a force plate at the edge of a table and the participating subjects were instructed to maintain their balance while sitting on the seat. Coordinates of center of pressure (CoP) were recorded and quantified with summary statistics and random walk analysis. The CoP movement increased significantly with increased seat instability (task difficulty) (p<0.01). Stabilogram plots of the CoP movement revealed short and long-term regions consistent with the hypothesis that the two regions reflect open and closed-loop postural control mechanisms. Repeatability of the CoP parameters was excellent for the summary statistics and the short-term random walk coefficients (0.77<R<0.96). It was fair for the long-term diffusion coefficients (0.56<R<0.57) and poor for the long-term scaling exponents (0.14<R<0.40). Summary statistics of the CoP movement were positively correlated with body weight (0.69<R<0. 73) and the T9 to L4/L5 distance (0.43<R<0.54) of the subjects. This method can be applied to study the deficits in postural control of the lumbar spine in low-back pain population.

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