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Effects on the location of the centre of gravity and the foot pressure contribution to standing balance associated with ageing

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The aim was to analyse the limitation of the head and lumbar movements in relation to the centre of gravity which is needed to maintain standing balance with ageing. The participants of the study were 25 healthy volunteers divided into two age categories, the young group (mean 22.4 +/- 2.7 years) and the elderly group (mean 71.2 +/- 3.6 years). The instruments for measuring the movements of the lumbar region and head and the centre of pressure (COP) were a 3-D motion analysis system and a force plate. In addition, the peak foot pressure was measured during standing using the F-Scan system. The participants were first asked to stand relaxed for 10 s. They then shifted from the starting position to the four directions of sway: anterior, posterior, right and left. They were asked to maintain standing balance at the maximal distance position for each sway as much as possible for 10 s. Analysis of parameters was performed by measuring the average maximal linear displacement (cm) of the head and lumbar markers, the COP (cm), and the peak foot pressure (% of body weight per cm2) in each participant. The data of the young group for lumbar maximal displacement were greater than those of the elderly group in the anterior, posterior and lateral sways. A significant difference between the young and elderly data was found in the posterior sway. According to the data of the head's maximal displacement, the elderly group's data were greater than the young group's data in all sways, except for the anterior side. For the data of peak foot pressure in the posterior sway, the elderly group's data was greater than the young group's data. The forefoot area data of the young group was significantly greater than that of the elderly group, and the heel area data of the elderly was significantly greater than that of the young group in the right sway. The results suggest that the maximal displacement of head and lumbar positions and the toe's muscle activity in the forefoot are important factors associated with the centre of gravity in elderly adults. It is postulated that each base of support area of the older adults is smaller than that of younger adults. These variables could be made available as a clinical test for the degree of poor balance.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: July 1, 1999

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