Send to

Choose Destination
Eur Spine J. 2018 May;27(5):1178-1187. doi: 10.1007/s00586-017-5321-2. Epub 2017 Oct 10.

A method to quantify the "cone of economy".

Author information

Texas Back Institute Research Foundation, 6020 West Parker Road, Plano, TX, 75093, USA.
Texas Back Institute, Plano, TX, USA.



A non-randomized, prospective, concurrent control cohort study.


The purpose of this study is to develop and evaluate a method to quantify the dimensions of the cone of economy (COE) and the energy expenditure associated with maintaining a balanced posture within the COE, scoliosis patients and compare them to matched non-scoliotic controls in a group of adult degenerative. Balance is defined as the ability of the human body to maintain its center of mass (COM) within the base of support with minimal postural sway. The cone of economy refers to the stable region of upright standing posture. The underlying assumption is that deviating outside one's individual cone challenges the balance mechanisms. Adult degenerative scoliosis (ADS) patients exhibit a variety of postural changes within their COE, involving the spine, pelvis and lower extremities, in their effort to compensate for the altered posture.


Ten ADS patients and ten non-scoliotic volunteers performed a series of functional balance tests. The dimensions of the COE and the energy expenditure related to maintaining balance within the COE were measured using a human motion video capture system and dynamic surface electromyography.


ADS patients presented more COM sway in the sagittal (ADS: 1.59 cm vs. H: 0.61 cm; p = 0.049) and coronal (ADS: 2.84 cm vs. H: 1.72 cm; p = 0.046) directions in comparison to the non-scoliotic control. ADS patients presented with more COM (ADS: 33.30 cm vs. H: 19.13 cm; p = 0.039) and head (ADS: 31.06 cm vs. H: 19.13 cm; p = 0.013) displacements in comparison to the non-scoliotic controls. Scoliosis patients expended more muscle activity to maintain static standing, as manifest by increased muscle activity in their erector spinae (ADS: 37.16 mV vs. H: 20.31 mV; p = 0.050), and gluteus maximus (ADS: 33.12 mV vs. H: 12.09 mV; p = 0.001) muscles.


We were able to develop and evaluate a method that quantifies the COE boundaries, COM displacement, and amount of sway within the COE along with the energy expenditure for a specific patient. This method of COE measurement will enable spine care practitioners to objectively evaluate their patients in an effort to determine the most appropriate treatment options, and in objectively documenting the effectiveness of their intervention.


Adult degenerative scoliosis; Center of mass; Cone of economy; Electromyography; Energy expenditure; Functional balance test; Human video motion capture; Sagittal balance

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Springer
Loading ...
Support Center