(1) James Cook University Hospital, Middlesbrough, United Kingdom
(2) Teesside University, Middlesbrough, United Kingdom
(3) University of Sunderland, Sunderland, United Kingdom
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There is a lack of published research investigating the relationship between thoracic hyperkyphosis and postural balance, both of which are independent contributory factors to falls in older people. The aim of this investigation was to evaluate the relationship between spinal curvature and postural sway in the frontal and sagittal planes. A secondary aim was to examine the difference in each of the variables over a period of 15 minutes.
Materials and Methods
A Microscribe 3DX Digitiser was used to measure back shape and a Kistler Force Plate calculated postural sway values. A convenience sample of 25 healthy young adults, aged 20-32 years was recruited. Each participant stood on the force plate for 15 minutes. Back shape measurements and a 30 second force plate reading were taken at the start and again at 15 minutes.
A significant positive correlation was found between lumbar lordosis and antero-posterior sway measured at the start (r=0.398, p<0.05). The change in medio-lateral sway over 15 minutes was also significantly different (Z=-2.435, p<0.05). No other statistically significant correlations were found but a number of general trends were seen between spinal angles and postural sway in both planes.
Whilst a larger sample is required to investigate the aims further, this research has demonstrated that back shape and postural sway values have the potential to be used to identify those at risk of falling. Those identified could be referred to necessary balance and falls rehabilitation classes.
If relationships between back shape and postural sway are already present in asymptomatic young adults it is reasonable to hypothesize that in older and very old adults these relationships will be even more marked. Further larger scale studies on asymptomatic older adults are needed to further evaluate this hypothesis.