Send to

Choose Destination
Exp Brain Res. 1995;104(3):480-92.

Age-related changes in open-loop and closed-loop postural control mechanisms.

Author information

NeuroMuscular Research Center, Boston University, MA 02215, USA.


In an earlier posturographic investigation (Collins and De Luca 1993) it was proposed that open-loop and closed-loop control mechanisms are involved in the regulation of undisturbed, upright stance. In this study, stabilogram-diffusion analysis was used to examine how the natural aging process affects the operational characteristics of these control mechanisms. Stabilogram-diffusion analysis leads to the extraction of repeatable center-of-pressure (COP) parameters that can be directly related to the steady-state behavior and functional interaction of the neuromuscular mechanisms underlying the maintenance of erect posture. Twenty-five healthy young males (aged 19-30 years) and twenty-five elderly males (aged 71-80 years) who were free of major gait and postural disorders were included in the study. An instrumented force platform was used to measure the time-varying displacements of the COP under each subject's feet during quiet standing. The COP trajectories were analyzed as one-dimensional and two-dimensional random walks, according to stabilogram-diffusion analysis. Using this technique, it was demonstrated cross-sectionally that healthy aging is associated with significant changes in the 'quasi-static' dynamics of the postural control system. (It was also shown that more traditional posturographic analyses, i.e., summary statistics, were not sensitive enough to detect these age-related differences.) It was found that the steady-state behavior of the open-loop postural control mechanisms in the elderly is more positively correlated and therefore perhaps more unstable, i.e., the output of the overall system has a greater tendency to move or drift away from a relative equilibrium point over the short term. In contrast with this result, it was also found that the steady-state behavior of the closed-loop postural control mechanisms in the elderly is more negatively correlated and therefore perhaps more stable, i.e., over the longer term, there is an increased probability that movements away from a relative equilibrium point will be offset by corrective adjustments back towards the equilibrium position. In addition, it was demonstrated that the elderly utilize open-loop control schemes for longer time intervals and correspondingly larger COP displacements during periods of undisturbed stance. This result suggests that in the elderly there is a greater delay, on average, before closed-loop feedback mechanisms are called into play. Finally, it was shown that there is an increased heterogeneity of postural control abilities in healthy older adults.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Loading ...
Support Center