The Influence of Concurrent Cognitive Tasks on Postural Sway in Children

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Purpose:The purpose of this study was to examine the influence of concurrent tasks on postural sway in children.Methods:Nineteen fourth-grade students, while standing on a balance platform, were asked to stand still, count backward, and read second-grade level sentences. The AMTI Accusway System was used to calculate the length of center of pressure path (LCOP), sway range (SR), and variability (SV) in mediolateral (ML) and anteroposterior (AP) directions of sway.Results:Analysis of variance revealed a main effect of cognitive task condition for SR-AP, SR-ML, SV-AP, and SV-ML. Post hoc comparisons revealed lower values of those four dependent measures for the counting backward task than for the standing still task and lower SV-AP for the counting backward task than for the reading task. In addition, there was a trend toward greater LCOP when performing a concurrent cognitive task.Conclusions:The demands of concurrent cognitive tasks while standing affect postural sway in children. The findings of this study contribute to our understanding of postural control in children and may explain why improvements in postural skills attained in clinical settings may not transfer to improved performance in other settings.

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