Postural sway during quiet standing is related to physiological tremor and muscle volume in young and elderly adults

Motoki Kouzaki, Kei Masani
Gait & Posture 2012, 35 (1): 11-7
To examine the age-related deterioration in postural control, we investigated the association between postural sway during quiet standing and either amplitude of physiological tremor or muscle volume of the plantar flexors in 20 young and 20 elderly adults. They maintained a quiet standing position on a force platform for 60s with their eyes open or closed. During quiet standing, physiological tremors detected using a piezoresistive accelerometer were recorded from the soleus muscle, and the center of pressure (COP) displacement and body acceleration in the antero-posterior direction were calculated using the ground reaction forces as an assessment of postural sway. Muscle volume was predicted from muscle thickness by an ultrasonographic image. The physiological tremor of the soleus muscle during quiet standing was significantly greater in elderly than in young adults, and a positive association between physiological tremor and the amplitude of postural sway was found for young and elderly adults combined. Furthermore, physiological tremor was positively correlated with the high-frequency component of COP sway during quiet standing. A significantly negative relation between the muscle volume of the plantar flexors and postural sway was found in both age groups. These results suggest that physiological tremor reflects high-frequency fluctuations in postural sway during quiet standing in young and elderly adults, and age-related increases in the postural sway amplitude in the antero-posterior direction may be related to a decrease in muscle volume of the plantar flexors for maintaining an upright posture.

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