COMPARATIVE STUDY
JOURNAL ARTICLE

Differences in rapid initiation and termination of voluntary postural sway associated with ageing and falls-risk

Murray G Tucker, Justin J Kavanagh, Steven Morrison, Rod S Barrett
Journal of Motor Behavior 2010, 42 (5): 277-87
20739269
The authors examined differences between young adults (n = 25) and healthy older adults (n = 48) in reaction time and the relations between center of pressure (COP) and center of mass (COM) motions during rapid initiation and termination of voluntary postural sway. Older adults were divided into low and high falls-risk groups based on Physiological Profile Assessment scores of sensorimotor function. Low falls-risk older adults had slower reaction times during anteroposterior sway initiation and decreased COP-COM separation during anteroposterior and medialateral sway initiation and anteroposterior continuous voluntary sway compared with young adults. High falls-risk older adults had slower initiation and termination reaction times in all response directions and decreased COP-COM separation during sway initiation and continuous voluntary sway in the anteroposterior and medialateral directions compared with young adults. Compared with low falls-risk older adults, high falls-risk older adults had slower initiation and termination reaction times in all response directions and decreased COP-COM separation during medialateral continuous voluntary sway. Reaction time and COP-COM measures significantly predicted group status in discriminant models with sensitivities and specificities of 72-100%. Overall, these findings highlight important associations of age-related declines in sensorimotor function related to an increased risk of falling with slower postural reaction time and reduced postural stability.

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