Postural control and ventilatory drive during voluntary hyperventilation and carbon dioxide rebreathing

Abstract

The present study sought to establish links between hyperventilation and postural stability. Eight university students were asked to stand upright under two hyperventilation conditions applied randomly: (1) a metabolic hyperventilation induced by 5 min of hypercapnic–hyperoxic rebreathing (CO2–R); and, (2) a voluntary hyperventilation (VH) of 3 min imposed by a metronome set at 25 cycles per min. Recordings were obtained with eyes open, with the subjects standing on a force plate over 20-s periods. Ventilatory response, displacements in the centre of pressure in both the frontal and sagittal planes and fluctuations in the three planes of the ground reaction force were monitored in the time and frequency domains. Postural changes related to respiratory variations were quantified by coherence analysis. Myoelectric activities of the calf muscles were recorded using surface electromyography. Force plate measurements revealed a reduction in postural stability during both CO2–R and VH conditions, mainly in the sagittal plane. Coherence analysis provided evidence of a ventilatory origin in the vertical ground reaction force fluctuations during VH. Electromyographic analyses showed different leg muscles strategies, assuming the existence of links between the control of respiration and the control of posture. Our results suggest that the greater disturbing effects caused by voluntary hyperventilation on body balance are more compensated when respiration is under automatic control. These findings may have implications for understanding the organisation of postural and respiratory activities and suggest that stability of the body may be compromised in situations in which respiratory demand increases and requires voluntary control.

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Acknowledgments

We are indebted to Thierry Grossemy for his technical assistance to set up the respiratory apparatus. We wish to thank Bill King and the anonymous English reviewer from Editavenue for their helpful advice on the English language in this paper.

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Correspondence to Michel Petitjean.

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Communicated by Nigel A.S. Taylor.

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David, P., Laval, D., Terrien, J. et al. Postural control and ventilatory drive during voluntary hyperventilation and carbon dioxide rebreathing. Eur J Appl Physiol 112, 145–154 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00421-011-1954-8

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Keywords

  • Electromyography
  • Postural control
  • Rebreathing
  • Hyperventilation