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Ecological assessment of postural control

Saunders N Whittlesey, University of Massachusetts Amherst


These studies developed methods for quantifying balance control while humans exert manual forces. The global purpose was to assess the situations in which elderly individuals commonly fall. These observations were used to recommend environmental modifications that might decrease the incidence of falling in the elderly. This was a departure from traditional tests of balance in which the subject stands in place with feet fixed; in the present studies, subjects performed various manual operations and walked while making light fingertip contact with a handrail. Balance was assessed on the basis of manual forces, body accelerations, alignment of hand forces with respect to the feet, moments of hand forces about the feet, and ‘body center of pressure.’ The latter measure was analogous to the traditional calculation of center of pressure on the ground, except that the body was subjected to the additional reaction forces at the hands.

Subject Area

Mechanics|Biophysics|Public health|Rehabilitation|Therapy

Recommended Citation

Whittlesey, Saunders N, "Ecological assessment of postural control" (2003). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3110565.