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Postural responses to balance perturbation in young and older adults

Taylor, Shania (2018) Postural responses to balance perturbation in young and older adults. Masters by Research thesis (MSc), Manchester Metropolitan University.


Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

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Postural control is used to maintain balance whilst standing in an upright position. With ageing, postural control following a perturbation, may decrease. This could lead to more falls, potentially causing injuries and hospital visits. The three main sensory systems contributing to balance are the visual system, vestibular system, and the somatosensory system. The aim of this study was to determine the changes in reaction to postural perturbation between Young, Middle Aged and Old adults (Aged 19-34 years, 35-59 years and 60-76 years respectively). Participants provided written, informed consent and their weight (kg), height (cm) and age (years) was recorded. Using the Natus neurocom balance master, each participant participated in the sensory organisation test, the motor control test and the unilateral stance test, and their reaction to the perturbation was recorded. The main findings of the study indicated that young adults do not need visual input to maintain balance when the visual input is accurate, however when the visual input is disturbed, ‘young’, ‘middle aged’ and ‘old adults’ experience reduced balance stability. It was also observed that ‘Young’ adults are the only age group in the study able to rely on the somatosensory system to maintain balance, whereas none of the age groups could use to vestibular system alone to maintain balance.

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