Renee Beach



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Balance is affected by the brain’s ability to process sensory information from an individual’s visual, vestibular and proprioceptive inputs. Neurological and elderly patients, including those with Parkinson’s Disease (PD), often have problems in these systems and therefore struggle with balance, putting them at a higher risk of falling. Initial studies have shown compliant floors are able to absorb energy from a fall, reducing injuries, but have not looked at how individuals recover from functional movements on the floors. It was the objective of this study to determine whether compliant flooring has an effect on postural stability during quiet-standing for a more diverse and more impaired population than previously studied as well as examine the effect of compliant flooring on postural stability following a dynamic, functional movement. Thirty healthy older adults and ten individuals with PD performed tasks such as the sit-to-stand transition while standing on a balance plate. From the collected center of pressure (COP) data A/P Sway Range, M/L Sway Range, Mean Velocity and Area of 95% Confidence Ellipse were calculated. It was found that compliant flooring caused increased sway (p<0.05) in all four parameters during quiet standing in healthy older adults and increased sway (p<0.05) in A/P Sway Range during quiet standing in older adults with PD. Stabilization immediately post-transition displayed increased sway upon completion of the movement, but there was no statistical differences between the flooring (p<0.05) for healthy older adults and older adults with PD. Overall although quiet standing differences were small in magnitude and the stabilization post-transition were non-significant, no clinical implications have been found for fall frequency on compliant floors. More work is necessary to determine the implications of compliant flooring during natural gait or transition areas.

Publication Date


Project Designation

Graduate Research

Primary Advisor

Kimberly Bigelow, Kurt Jackson

Primary Advisor's Department

Mechanical Engineering


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Effect of Compliant Flooring on Postural Stability in an Older Adult Population