Age-Related Features of the Voluntary Control of the Upright Posture

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The capability for the unconscious control of the upright posture in elderly people is impaired, which increases the risk of falls and traumata. The impairment of the unconscious control of posture is partially compensated by the fixation of voluntary attention on the maintenance of an appropriate posture. Elderly people fall predominantly during the performance of movements that demand additional voluntary postural control, for example, unstable support conditions. Thus, voluntary postural control assumes importance in elderly persons. Since it is unclear whether this function changes with age, the aim of this work was to study age-related features of the learning voluntary postural control using visual feedback by center-of-pressure position. The results of the study showed that voluntary postural control is a complex multicomponent process that includes, at least, the following functions: selection of a strategy of postural control, its actualization, and precision of its regulation. With aging, strategy selection in healthy people impairs, but both elderly and middle-aged people can learn this function as successfully as the young. At the same time, despite the absence of an initial deficit in the accuracy of postural setting in elderly people, training of this function becomes substantially more difficult with age.

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