Author(s): Robinovitch SN, Cronin T
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Abstract This study explored whether, when compared to young community-dwelling individuals, elderly nursing home and day care participants have less accurate perceptions of their postural stability borders (postural limits). Subjects estimated their performance before executing maximum forward reaches while maintaining the feet stationary. Whereas young subjects tended to underestimate their reaching limits, elderly subjects displayed no significant difference between estimated and actual values. Furthermore, errors in estimated reach limits associated with reaching ability, with less-able reachers tending to more greatly overestimate their abilities. This suggests that elderly nursing home and day care participants, and especially those with impaired postural limits, lack the potential "safety factor" observed in young subjects of underestimating their stability borders. Therefore, the link between decreased postural limits and falls in older persons may in part be due to lack of awareness of such declines, and the resulting tendency to plan movements which create loss of balance.
This article was published in J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci
and referenced in Journal of Arthritis