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Balance, or the ability to stand upright unassisted without falling, is affected by the brain's ability to process sensory information from an individual's vision, muscles, and joints. Researchers have studied how elderly patients often have problems in these systems and therefore struggle with balance putting them at higher risk of falling. Since older individuals with postural instability are up to 5 times more likely to fall, environmental changes to decrease amount of falls and fall related injuries is vital. Compliant flooring is a novel approach shown to reduce the amount of injuries from falls by absorbing up to 50% of the impact from a fall. The purpose of this study was to analyze whether these newer floorings had the tradeoff of negatively affecting balance and functional movement due to their compliance. 20 healthy older adults underwent static balance testing as well as functional balance testing. Participants were instructed to stand on three different types of flooring, performing the tasks of sitting to standing, turning in a circle, putting on a sweater, picking up an object, standing still with eyes open, standing still with eyes closed, and leaning at the ankle forward, backward and side-to-side. A force platform and inertial measurement units (IMUs) were used to record center of pressure (COP) and trunk kinematics. Medial/Lateral (M/L) and Anterior/Posterior (A/P) COP sway range and Time to Stabilization (TtS) were among the variables calculated. Initial results show significantly increased A/P postural sway (p<0.05) on the compliant flooring, with eyes open and eyes closed. No statistically significant differences were found in sway ranges during the Limits of Stability task. This work will help living communities with individuals at high fall risk, such as nursing homes, be better informed of options for preventing injuries due to falls.
Kimberly E. Bigelow
Primary Advisor's Department
Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
Stander Symposium poster
Beach, Renee L., "Effect of Compliant Flooring on Postural Stability in an Older Adult Population" (2013). Stander Symposium Posters. 217.