Research Topic

The Contribution of Postural Adjustments to Body Balance and Motor Performance

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The control of balance is crucial to maintain our posture and perform efficiently our daily motor tasks. Humans, as all terrestrial species, indeed evolve in a gravity field that permanently tends to induce postural destabilization by its attracting effect towards the centre of the earth. Other external ...

The control of balance is crucial to maintain our posture and perform efficiently our daily motor tasks. Humans, as all terrestrial species, indeed evolve in a gravity field that permanently tends to induce postural destabilization by its attracting effect towards the centre of the earth. Other external forces, arising from the environment such as those elicited by the contact with a player in sport practice or by the acceleration of a train in which one stands, may also challenge body balance. In addition, many studies from the last decades and to date pointed out the disturbing effect of internal forces induced by vegetative functions (respiration, heart bump, peristaltism etc.) and by voluntary segmental movements, even the tiniest ones such as single finger movements. To keep the body (or part of it) steady, these disturbing forces must be compensated, at least partly. It is known that this compensation involves dynamical phenomena sub-served by highly-coordinated patterns of muscle activation/deactivation disseminated throughout the whole-body and called “postural adjustments”. Current research shows that these postural phenomena are triggered by a complex tune of intertwined feed-forward and feed-back mechanisms that may be released before (the so-called “early postural adjustments” and “anticipatory postural adjustments, EPA and APA, respectively), during (“simultaneous postural adjustments”, SPA) and/or after (“consecutive postural adjustments”, CPA) the disturbance. According to the biomechanical concept of “posturo-kinetic capacity” (PKC), both postural stability and motor performance would depend on the capacity of the central nervous system to generate these postural phenomena.

Postural adjustments primarily depend on the biomechanical parameters of the task to perform, but might also be influenced by other factors (e.g. psychological, cognitive, physiological, environmental) likely to interfere with the motor control programming.

In addition, it is noteworthy that SPA and CPA have only been recently described in the literature, and the question of the coordination between the different components of postural adjustments, namely APA, SPA and CPA still largely remains to be clarified.

Beside their basic interest of unveiling the mechanisms behind motor control, results from such investigations might be relevant to develop new methods or tools to improve postural stability and motor performance, with applications in the fields of neurodegenerative conditions, rehabilitation, ergonomics and sports activities. Establishing the interaction between postural control, locomotion and cognition has important clinical implication, especially in term of falls prevention, and will improve our knowledge on the underlying neural correlates.

The goal of this research topic is to provide an up-to-date picture of the relationship between postural adjustments, body balance and motor performance. We welcome submissions focusing on the various factors, such as ageing or cognitive impairments, which may influence postural adjustments, on the relationship between the successive sequences of postural adjustments (APS, SPA, CPA), and on the use of postural adjustments in specific applications. The topic covers the different aspects of motor control, from body balance assessment to the analysis of dynamic tasks and gait and its interaction with cognitive functions. Submissions, which should use the state of art method and technology (EMG, force plate, 3D analysis etc.) for human movement analysis can be any article type (review, original research, technical note etc.).


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