Postural orientation: Age-related changes in variability and time-to-boundary

E. E.H. Van Wegen, R. E.A. Van Emmerik, G. E. Riccio

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The relation between age-specific postural instability and the detection of stability boundaries was examined. Balance control was investigated under different visual conditions (eyes open/closed) and postural orientations·(forward/backward lean) while standing on a force platform. Dependent variables included center of pressure variability and the time-to-contact of the center of pressure with the stability boundaries around the feet (i.e., time-to-boundary). While leaning maximally, older individuals (ages 55-69) showed increased center of pressure variability compared to no lean, while younger subjects (ages 24-38) showed a decrease. These significant differences were found only in anterior-posterior direction. No significant age-specific differences were found between eyes open and eyes closed conditions. Time-to-boundary analysis revealed reduced spatio-temporal stability margins in older individuals in both anterior-posterior and medio-lateral directions. Time-to-boundary variability, however, was not significantly different between the groups in both medio-lateral and anterior-posterior direction. These results show the importance of boundary relevant center of pressure measures in the study of postural control, especially concerning the lateral instability often observed in older adults.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)61-84
Number of pages24
JournalHuman Movement Science
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2002


  • Aging
  • Balance
  • Postural stability
  • Time-to-boundary
  • Variability


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