Objective: Identifying age-related changes in the postural control system is an important first step towards understanding the risk for falls in older adults. The purpose of this study was to determine whether age or gender had any effects on six relatively new postural control measures.
Design: Cross-sectional, 2 x 2 factorial design, representing two ages (younger [20 to 35 years], and older [60 to 75 years]) and both sexes.
Setting: University campus.
Participants: Twenty-four community dwelling healthy adults (12 women, 12 men) participated in each of the younger and older groups.
Main outcome measures: Outcome measures included five force platform measures and functional reach (cm). The force platform measures, obtained using the Balance Master system, included movement time and path length to targets, and sway area under conditions of eyes open, eyes closed, and with visual feedback.
Results: Although gender was not significant for any outcome measure, age was significant in all six outcome measures. Older adults demonstrated larger areas of sway regardless of condition (eyes open, eyes closed or with visual feedback). Older adults had longer movement times, longer path lengths, and shorter distances of functional reach when compared with younger adults.
Conclusions: The results suggest that the measures studied are sensitive to age-related changes in healthy elderly.