Postural control during kneeling
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Postural control was studied when the subject was kneeling with erect trunk in a quiet posture and compared to that obtained during quiet standing. The analysis was based on the center of pressure motion in the sagittal plane (CPx), both in the time and in the frequency domains. One could assume that postural control during kneeling would be poorer than in standing because it is a less natural posture. This could cause a higher CPx variability. The power spectral density (PSD) of the CPx obtained from the experimental data in the kneeling position (KN) showed a significant decrease at frequencies below 0.3 Hz compared to upright (UP) (P < 0.01), which indicates less sway in KN. Conversely, there was an increase in fast postural oscillations (above 0.7 Hz) during KN compared to UP (P < 0.05). The root mean square (RMS) of the CPx was higher for UP (P < 0.01) while the mean velocity (MV) was higher during KN (P < 0.05). Lack of vision had a significant effect on the PSD and the parameters estimated from the CPx in both positions. We also sought to verify whether the changes in the PSD of the CPx found between the UP and KN positions were exclusively due to biomechanical factors (e.g., lowered center of gravity), or also reflected changes in the neural processes involved in the control of balance. To reach this goal, besides the experimental approach, a simple feedback model (a PID neural system, with added neural noise and controlling an inverted pendulum) was used to simulate postural sway in both conditions (in KN the pendulum was shortened, the mass and the moment of inertia were decreased). A parameter optimization method was used to fit the CPx power spectrum given by the model to that obtained experimentally. The results indicated that the changed anthropometric parameters in KN would indeed cause a large decrease in the power spectrum at low frequencies. However, the model fitting also showed that there were considerable changes also in the neural subsystem when the subject went from standing to kneeling. There was a lowering of the proportional and derivative gains and an increase in the neural noise power. Additional increases in the neural noise power were found also when the subject closed his eyes.
KeywordsHuman Power spectral density Center of pressure Model Neural noise Inverted pendulum
This research was funded by a fellowship and grants from FAPESP, CNPq and CAPES (research funding agencies from Brazil). We are also thankful for the very useful comments of the anonymous reviewers.
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