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Physical load handling and listening comprehension effects on balance control

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The purpose of this study was to determine the physical load handling and listening comprehension effects on balance control. A total of 16 young and 16 elderly participants were recruited in this study. The physical load handling task required holding a 5-kg load in each hand with arms at sides. The listening comprehension task involved attentive listening to a short conversation. Three short questions were asked regarding the conversation right after the testing trial to test the participants' attentiveness during the experiment. Balance control was assessed by centre of pressure-based measures, which were calculated from the force platform data when the participants were quietly standing upright on a force platform. Results from this study showed that both physical load handling and listening comprehension adversely affected balance control. Physical load handling had a more deleterious effect on balance control under the listening comprehension condition vs. no-listening comprehension condition. Based on the findings from this study, interventions for the improvement of balance could be focused on avoiding exposures to physically demanding tasks and cognitively demanding tasks simultaneously. Statement of Relevance:Findings from this study can aid in better understanding how humans maintain balance, especially when physical and cognitive loads are applied. Such information is useful for developing interventions to prevent fall incidents and injuries in occupational settings and daily activities.
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Keywords: age; balance control; falls; listening comprehension; physical load handling

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, Singapore

Publication date: December 1, 2010

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