Postural Control in the Elderly
This study will examine loss of balance in the elderly. Falls due to balance problems are a major health issue in older people, often resulting in bone fractures and other bodily injuries, and functional decline. In addition, the fear of falling leads some elderly people to restrict their movements and social activities, causing depressed moods and decreased enjoyment of life. Risk factors for falling in the elderly include some standing positions in which older people usually experience balance problems, such as leaning forward or backward. This study will examine these unstable positions and the brain mechanisms associated with loss of balance in the elderly.
Normal volunteers between 20 and 90 years of age may be eligible for this study. Candidates must be in good health, with no difficulties in performing activities of daily living, and must be able to walk for at least 400 meters (1/4 mile). They will be screened with a medical history, physical examination, and blood tests.
Participants will undergo the following three experiments:
- Movement task: The subject stands on a platform with markers placed at different parts of the body to record body movements. A cap with electrodes (metal disks) is placed on the head for electrocardiographic (EEG) recording of the electrical activity of the brain (brain waves) during the experiment. The positions of the feet on the platform are measured. While standing on the platform, the subject leans forward and backward as far as possible without losing balance. (Subjects are secured in a safety harness to prevent actual falls.) The task is repeated 5 times. The experiment lasts up to 2 hours.
- Postural response task: This study is identical to the first, except that the subject does not voluntarily lean forward and backward, but is pushed with a device to cause forward and backward movements. The experiment lasts 1 to 2 hours.
- Perceptual task: The subject sits in front of a computer screen and watches the postural movements of a human body model in forward and backward directions. When the subject recognizes an unstable position in the movements, he or she presses a computer mouse. An EEG records brain activity during the task, which lasts up to 2 hours.
|Official Title:||Cortical Control of Postural Stability in the Elderly|
|Study Start Date:||April 2003|
|Estimated Study Completion Date:||March 2005|
Please refer to this study by its ClinicalTrials.gov identifier: NCT00059501
|United States, Maryland|
|National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)|
|Bethesda, Maryland, United States, 20892|