Human Postural Control
  Visual Influences in Postural Control
  Time-varying Properties of Postural Sway
Time-Varying Properties of Postural Sway
Funded by:
National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIH)

Patrick Loughlin
Principal Investigator
  University of Pittsburgh
Mark Redfern
  University of Pittsburgh
Joseph Furman
  University of Pittsburgh
The study of human balance is an important biomedical engineering problem, because instabilities can lead to falls that cause serious injury. The ability to maintain upright balance in humans is affected by environmental factors and the sensory information available to the individual about the surrounding environment. This proposed research will specifically study the ability of the human balance system to adapt to external visual perturbations, and the effects of particular diseases that impair balance on that adaptation process. The specific aims of this proposed study address the adaptation, habituation, and saturation of postural sway in healthy individuals standing on different support surfaces, and the influence of particular diseases (unilateral and bilateral vestibular loss, and cerebellar lesions) that impair balance on the response of patients to moving scene perturbations at different amplitudes and frequency. The findings of this research will contribute to a better understanding of the human balance system, especially the nature of adaptation, habituation, and saturation characteristics. These findings will have an impact on the development of models of human balance, particularly with regard to time-varying versus time-invariant aspects of balance control. Also, these studies may help to explain the differences in the ability to adapt to particular external perturbations between healthy and balance-impaired individuals. This increased understanding of the human balance system may lead to improvements in the evaluation and rehabilitation of individuals with balance disorders.



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