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J Electromyogr Kinesiol. 2012 Feb;22(1):131-6. doi: 10.1016/j.jelekin.2011.10.007. Epub 2011 Nov 18.

The spectral content of postural sway during quiet stance: influences of age, vision and somatosensory inputs.

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Julius Wolff Institut, Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Centrum für Sportwissenschaft und Sportmedizin Berlin, Philippstr. 13, Haus 11, D-10115 Berlin, Germany.


Maintenance of human upright stance requires the acquisition and integration of sensory inputs. Conventional measures of sway have had success in identifying age- and some disease-related changes, but remain unable to address the complexities and dynamics associated with postural control. We investigated the effects of vision, surface compliance, age, and gender on the spectral content of center of pressure (COP) time series. Sixteen healthy young (age 18-24) and older participants (age 55-65) performed trials of quiet, upright stance under different vision (eyes open vs. closed) and surface (hard vs. compliant) conditions. Spectral analyses were conducted to describe COP mean normalized power in discretized bands. Effects of the two sensory modalities and age were distinct in the antero-posterior and medio-lateral directions, and a reorganization of spectral content was evident with increasing task difficulty (eyes open vs. closed and hard vs. compliant surface) and among older adults. These results indicate that vision and surface compliance are predominantly associated with responses from musculature associated with antero-posterior and medio-lateral directions of sway, respectively. Finally, distinguishing between the contributions of different afferent systems to the postural control system using the spectral content of sway bi-directionally may help in diagnosing individuals with balance impairments.

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