Postural control of elderly: moving to predictable and unpredictable targets

Stud Health Technol Inform. 2012;181:93-7.


Impaired postural control with muscle weakness is an important predictor of falls within the elderly population.Particular daily activities that require weight shifting in order to be able to reach a specific target (a cup on a table) require continuous adjustments to keep the body's center of mass balanced. In the present study postural control was examined in healthy elderly and young subjects during a task in which subjects had to move the body's center of mass towards a virtual target on a screen that appeared at predictable and unpredictable locations. Postural control decreased with unpredictable targets, e.g. movement time was larger, trajectories more irregular. The results indicate that even though older individuals clearly benefitted from the early release of target location information, young individuals improved even more when target information became available.This indicates that the young were better able to use this information prospectively for executing the target directed movement quickly and accurately.

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Adaptation, Physiological / physiology*
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Computer Simulation
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Monitoring, Ambulatory
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology*
  • Postural Balance / physiology*
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology*
  • User-Computer Interface