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Measures of postural steadiness are used to characterize the dynamics of the postural control system associated with maintaining balance during quiet standing. The objective of this study was to evaluate the relative sensitivity of center-of-pressure (COP)-based measures to changes in postural steadiness related to age. A variety of time and frequency domain measures of postural steadiness were compared between a group of twenty healthy young adults (21-35 years) and a group of twenty healthy elderly adults (66-70 years) under both eyes-open and eyes-closed conditions. The measures that identified differences between the eyes-open and eyes-closed conditions in the young adult group were different than those that identified differences between the eye conditions in the elderly adult group. Mean velocity of the COP was the only measure that identified age-related changes in both eye conditions, and differences between eye conditions in both age groups. The results of this study will be useful to researchers and clinicians using COP-based measures to evaluate postural steadiness.
Date of Publication: Sept. 1996