Link to the University of Pittsburgh Homepage
Link to the University Library System Homepage Link to the Contact Us Form

Adaptive Postural Strategies: Impact of Aging

Coley, Brooke Charáe (2011) Adaptive Postural Strategies: Impact of Aging. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

Primary Text

Download (1MB) | Preview


Falls threaten the quality of life of older adults and are associated with tremendous economic costs. Slips and trips are the two major causes of falls during locomotion and each requires a different postural response to prevent falling. However, a critical requirement in maintaining balance in either is the ability to generate proactive postural adjustments. Older adults have been shown to adopt proactive postural adjustments through repeated exposure to novel perturbations. However, the extent to which such learning abilities applied to perturbed and novel gait was unknown. This dissertation investigated reducing the incidence of falls in older adults through learning to better recover from perturbed gait based on a systems model theory. Potential associations between aging and anticipatory postural strategies when repeatedly exposed to forward slips were studied. Forward vs. backward walking slips were also compared to examine the impact of gait novelty on the ability to generate proactive adjustments. We also desired to know whether knowledge of the type of perturbation impacts the ability to generate proactive adjustments and whether such adjustments change with experience and when the nature of the perturbation is unknown. Subjects were exposed to multiple slip and trip perturbations to investigate these differences and to compare how young and older adults optimize their proactive adjustments. As anticipatory behavior improves perturbation recovery outcomes, changes in measures of severity with increased exposure were also analyzed. This study found young and older adults capable of adopting optimal proactive postural adjustments when repeatedly exposed to forward slips and their central nervous system was able to make internal representations applicable to a novel task. Awareness of a perturbation proved sufficient to induce proactive adaptations and with experience, adaptations became perturbation specific to reduce slip and trip risk in both age groups. Perturbation recovery improved with multiple exposures in both age groups as decreases in severity measures were observed. This study opens the door to studies evaluating the retention of postural control motor skills adapted through training and prior experiences and sheds light on the benefits of a systems model theory based fall intervention program for slips and trips.


Social Networking:
Share |


Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Coley, Brooke Charáebcc4@pitt.eduBCC4
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairCham, Rakiércham@pitt.eduRCHAM
Committee MemberMcCrory,
Committee MemberSwearingen, Jessie Vanjessievs@pitt.eduJESSIEVS
Committee MemberRedfern, Markmredfern@pitt.eduMREDFERN
Committee MemberPerera, Subashanksp9@pitt.eduKSP9
Date: 26 January 2011
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 25 October 2010
Approval Date: 26 January 2011
Submission Date: 18 November 2010
Access Restriction: 5 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 5 years.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Swanson School of Engineering > Bioengineering
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: aging; proactive adaptations; repeated exposure; Slips; trips
Other ID:, etd-11182010-095837
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 20:05
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:51


Monthly Views for the past 3 years

Plum Analytics

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item