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The limits of postural stability in relation to aging

22 May 1988


The following is a normative study in the limits of postural stability demonstrated by fifty-eight healthy community dwelling individuals aged 18-84 years. A decline in the limits of stability perceived by the individual may indicate a decline in the ability to adapt to changes in the environment. An investigation into measuring such limits across the age continuum is warranted since loss of balance and falls are an increasing problem among the aged. The limits of postural stability were therefore measured using a computerized standing forceplate and a reaching measurement apparatus. As hypothesized, the results indicated that cone-shaped limits of stability and ability to allow a moving target with weight shifting significantly declined with age using an one-way ANOVA (p=.0001 & p=.0002 respectively). There appeared to be a more rapid decline in these abilities after age 40 years as revealed by an one-way ANOVA. Although a decline in reaching distance was expected, such as decline was not found based on a Pearson Product moment correlation. This was true of reaching with a target and reaching without a target. Increasing age was also not significantly related to standing static sway nor to the number of falls. The subjective fall report was also not related to limits of stability variables. The importance of more precise variable definition was suggested.


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