Gender Differences in Postural Stability Among Children

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Andrew W. Smith, Franciska F. Ulmer, Del P. Wong

This study aimed to examine the gender differences in postural stability among 8-12 year-old children. Twenty-six children participated in this repeated measures study to measure the centre of pressure (COP) under one normal condition (CONTROL: hard surface, eyes open, and looking straight ahead) and two challenging sensory conditions (ECHB: eyes closed and head back; and EOCS: eyes open and compliant surface) in randomized order. Girls had significantly lower COP path velocity (COP-PV, p < 0.05, medium effect), smaller radial displacement (COP-RD, p < 0.05, medium effect), and lower area velocity (COP-AV, p < 0.05, medium effect) as compared to boys when the three conditions were pooled. Gender differences were found in the percentage changes in COP-RD during ECHB (p < 0.05, large effect) and EOCS (p < 0.05, medium effect), and in COP-AV during both ECHB and EOCS conditions (p < 0.05, medium effect). Postural stability performance of girls had higher correlations with age (-0.62 vs. -0.40), body mass (-0.60 vs. -0.42), foot length (-0.68 vs. -0.45), and physical activity level (-0.45 vs. 0.02), as compared to boys. Girls had better postural stability than boys but were more affected by altered sensory input information. Girls are more capable of integrating their sensory inputs, whereas boys treat each sensory input somewhat separately and rely more on somatosensory feedback. Exercises such as standing on unstable surfaces with eyes open instead of eye closed and head back are more beneficial to children’s postural stability control system.
DOI: 10.2478/v10078-012-0041-5
Key words
balance, proprioception, youth, sensory weighting, centre of pressure

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