Postural control among normal population of different age groups

Naema Ismail, Gehan S. Abd El-Salam, Asmaa Fathi


Background: Postural control continues to change in later stages of life. Age-related changes may occur within or between sub-systems involved in postural control. It is thought clinically that these changes are important as they often result in falls & injury. The aim of the work was to compare the balance characteristics among different age groups using computerized dynamic posturography to provide clinicians with normal references.

Methods: Inclusion criteria were study group consisted of (30) normal healthy individuals, age range 16-79 years, with neither hearing nor vestibular complaints. It was divided into 3 age groups, each group consisted of 10 patients. Group (A) young- 16-39 years, group (B) middle- 40-59 years and group (C) elderly- 60-79 years. Exclusion criteria were history of neuromuscular or neuroskeletal disease, symptoms of unsteadiness, dizziness or vertigo, symptoms of impaired sensory function, symptoms of arthritis or lower limb problem, symptoms of uncorrected visual problems, symptoms of postural hypotension or diabetes, medication intake such as sedatives, hypnotics, anxiolytics & antidepressants.  All participants were subjected to full history taking, otologic examination, basic audiologic evaluation, computerized dynamic posturography which included sensory organization test, limits of stability and rhythmic weight shift.  

Results: Sensory organization test: The elderly group (C) had lowest equilibrium score with eyes open, closed & with conflicted visual cues on swayed surface (condition 6) and also this group have lowest percentage of SOT strategy. There was a statistically significant difference among A & C groups when using sensory organization test strategy in all conditions. Limits of stability test: The elderly group has higher overall reaction time. There was statistically significant difference in all conditions of limits of stability as regards directional control. Rhythmic weight shift right and left test: There was a statistically significant difference between groups A & C in low & medium speed on on-axis velocity & directional control. Rhythmic weight shift front & back test: There was no statistically significant difference between all groups as regards on-axis velocity. There was highly statistically significant difference between all groups in all trials as regards directional control.

Conclusions: Postural instability occurs frequently in healthy elderly subjects. Sensory organization test is the most effective test to compare balance function among different age groups.


Posturography, Postural sway, Age effect, Sensory organization, Cognitive function

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