Discipline: Biological Sciences
Subcategory: Biomedical Engineering
Steven Cale - University of the District of Columbia
Co-Author(s): Beachrhell Jacques, Stacey Lockerman, and Charles Wilson, UDC, Washington, DC
We hypothesized that activities, such as those undertaken during the training of collegiate athletes, improves postural stability during standing balance. A deeper understanding of “normal” subject populations’ balance, including the differences potentially due to “expert” training, has implications and projections for future studies involving the rehabilitation of disabled and/or balance-impaired populations.
Static posture testing in the absence of external perturbations, or quiet stance, is a simple and safe test to perform and administer. All experiments were conducted within the Center for Biomechanical & Rehabilitation Engineering at the University of the District of Columbia. Test groups were young adults (20-26 years old), with an equal number of males and females: 1) a (control) group of ‘non-athletes’, that were free from sensory neuropathies, able to ambulate without assistance, did not participate in collegiate or club sports, and exercised less than 2 sessions per week; 2) a group of “athletes”: young adults that were free from sensory neuropathies, were able to ambulate without assistance, and participated in junior varsity/varsity, collegiate athletics (training over 5 sessions per week). Junior varsity/varsity soccer athletes and tennis athletes were targeted and tested on multiple conditions (e.g., variations in foot placement and visual cues). Raw force data (acquired via a Tekscan Forceplate Walkway) was used to compute changes in center of pressure (COP), the location of the vertical ground reaction force vector.
From the COP data trace as a function of time, computed displacement, velocity, and frequency characteristics (e.g., Prieto et al. 1996). In particular, root mean squared COP was decreased (an increase in stability) in the athletes compared to the non-athletes. The stabilogram diffusion function (e.g., Collins and DeLuca 1993; 1995) was used to interpret the effects of closed-loop and open-loop control for both subject populations. In our preliminary findings, we observed that expert training lead to improved stability. Future studies will involve investigating if different athletic activities (undertaken for different sports), can improve posture. Findings may ultimately impact and improve postural stability in balance-impaired patient populations.
Funder Acknowledgement(s): This study was supported by an NSF grant: HRD- 1533479 NSF HBCU-UP Targeted Infusion Project entitled “The Integration, Cultivation, and Exposure to Biomedical Engineering at University of the District of Columbia,” awarded to the Principal Investigator, Lara A. Thompson Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Program Director of the Biomedical Engineering Program, and the Director for the Center of Biomechanical and Rehabilitation Engineering (CBRE), University of the District of Columbia (UDC), Washington, DC 20008.
Faculty Advisor: Lara A. Thompson,