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Title: Balance capacity influences the effects of conscious movement processing on postural control in older adults
Authors: Kal, EC
Young, WR
Ellmers, TJ
Keywords: conscious movement processing;older adults;postural controlInternal focus;movement reinvestment
Issue Date: 5-Feb-2022
Publisher: Elsevier BV
Citation: Kal, E.C, Young, W.R. and Ellmers, T.J. (2022) 'Balance capacity influences the effects of conscious movement processing on postural control in older adults', Human Movement Science, 82, 102933, pp. 1-11. doi: 10.1016/j.humov.2022.102933.
Abstract: Copyright © 2022 The Authors. Older adults rely increasingly on conscious processes to control balance. While this could be in response to age-related declines in balance capacity, it is unclear whether such strategy is adaptive or not. We investigated whether balance capacity modified the effects of conscious movement processing (CMP) on postural control in older adults. Forty-seven older adults (Mage = 74.8, range = 61–88) completed 60-s, narrow-stance balance trials on a force platform, under conditions designed to increase (high-CMP; through movement-monitoring instructions) or reduce conscious processing (low-CMP; distraction task). Balance capacity was operationalised as a composite score of Berg Balance Scale and Timed-up-and-Go. Balance capacity influenced the effects of the CMP manipulation on mediolateral sway amplitude (p = .023). Specifically, it positively associated with sway amplitude during the high-CMP condition (β = 0.273), but not low-CMP condition (β = −0.060). In other words, higher balance capacity was associated with increased sway during high-CMP, confirming our hypothesis that CMP does not uniformly negatively impact balance performance. Rather, CMP was maladaptive for those with better balance. Results also indicated that older adults' balance capacity influenced the degree to which they could engage conscious or automatic postural control processes. Specifically, we found that, overall, participants showed reduced mediolateral sway frequency and complexity for the high-CMP vs. low-CMP condition (p's ≤ 0.018), indicating reduced automaticity of balance (as expected). However, these effects were significantly attenuated as balance capacity reduced (i.e., smaller changes in those with lower balance capacity, p's < 0.010). Hence, the ability to readily shift between conscious and automatic modes of postural control seems more constrained as balance becomes worse. Overall, these findings suggest clinicians need to consider older adults' balance capacity when using providing instructions or feedback likely to influence CMP within rehabilitation settings.
Description: Appendix A. Supplementary data to this article can be found online at
ISSN: 0167-9457
Other Identifiers: 102933
Appears in Collections:Dept of Clinical Sciences Research Papers

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