Neuromuscular versus behavioral influences in control of postural stability in elderly women

Falls are the leading cause of injury and injury-related deaths in elderly people. Impaired muscle strength, joint movement, balance, gait, vision, hearing and cognition predispose people to fall. But efforts to predict and prevent falls based on these risk factors have met with limited success. Fabio Feldman is comparing how people with a history of falling and non-fallers control their movements. Motor and cognitive functions may decline as people age. Fabio is investigating whether a tendency to attempt movements that exceed motor capacities, due to an exaggerated perception of physical abilities, is an important cause of falls in the elderly. He is measuring motor capacity for balance, reaction time, flexibility and strength in fallers and non-fallers. The research could lead to better tools for predicting and reducing risk in elderly individuals at high risk for falls. The results could also be applied in other areas, such as assessing driving abilities of the elderly and physical rehabilitation following a stroke or injury.