Special Issue "How Visual and Spatial Orientation Contribute to the Control of Postural Balance in Public Health"

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Alessandro Piras
E-Mail Website
Chief Guest Editor
Department of Biomedical and Neuromotor Sciences, University of Bologna, 40126 Bologna, Italy
Interests: posture; eye movements; EMG; kinesiology; center of pressure; physical exercise; motor control
Prof. Dr. Milena Raffi
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Biomedical and Neuromotor Sciences, University of Bologna, 40126 Bologna, Italy
Interests: neurophysiology; visual perception; motor control; sensori-motor integration, diabetes, posture; eye movements; EMG; physical exercise

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The purpose of this Special Issue is to investigate neurophysiological, biomechanical, and physical exercise influences on balance dysfunction and postural instability. Our objective is to address the most important parameters influencing human performance in both healthy and diseased populations, considering both mechanisms influencing performance and the public health consequences of variation in performance. Balance dysfunction, postural instability, and falls are three of the most relevant determinants of an impaired quality of life, and exercise interventions are essential to reducing levels of disability. Falls, a consequence of the interplay among balance, postural instability, and the environment, are an important and costly public health problem due to their influence on morbidity and mortality. We encourage papers addressing exercise interventions and new methodologies addressing balance dysfunction and postural instability, including but not limited to:

  1. New approaches (devices; physical tests; new methodologies) to assess posture and interventions studies related to public health;
  2. Postural instability in Parkinson’s disease;
  3. Postural instability after diabetic complications;
  4. Effect of exercise on postural control;
  5. Effect of different sports on postural adjustment;
  6. Vision and vestibular signals on postural rearrangement;
  7. Effect of optic flow on postural control;
  8. How central and peripheral vision affect balance control;
  9. Novel data concerning surveillance and population aspects of balance and postural instability.

Dr. Alessandro Piras
Prof. Milena Raffi
Guest Editors

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Keywords

  • posture
  • gait
  • diabetes
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • EMG
  • visual system
  • eye movements
  • sensorimotor integration
  • balance

Published Papers (4 papers)

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Research

Article
Physical Fitness among Community-Dwelling Older Women with and without Risk of Falling—The Taipei Study, Taiwan
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(14), 7243; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijerph18147243 - 06 Jul 2021
Viewed by 440
Abstract
The purposes of this study were to compare the differences in physical fitness between community-dwelling older women fallers and non-fallers, with and without a risk of falling, and to investigate the relation between physical fitness and falling risk factors. This study was a [...] Read more.
The purposes of this study were to compare the differences in physical fitness between community-dwelling older women fallers and non-fallers, with and without a risk of falling, and to investigate the relation between physical fitness and falling risk factors. This study was a secondary data analysis from a community- and exercise-based fall-prevention program. Baseline assessments pertaining to body weight and height, self-reported chronic diseases, the 12-item fall risk questionnaire (FRQ), senior fitness test, single-leg stand test, and handgrip strength test were extracted. Participants (n = 264) were classified into fallers and non-fallers, and sub-classified according to the risk of falling (FRQ ≥4 and <4). While controlling for the effect of age, body mass index (BMI), and multimorbidity, one-way analysis of covariance indicated that older women with a risk of falling showed poorer performances of the 8-foot up-and-go, 2-min step and 30-s chair stand compared with those without a risk of falling, regardless of the history of falls. Additionally, weaker grip strength was found in non-fallers with falling risk. Some significant, but low-to-moderate, correlations were found between physical fitness tests and fall risk factors in the FRQ, particularly in gait/balance problem and leg muscle weakness. Proactive efforts are encouraged to screen and manage deterioration in the identified physical fitness. Full article
Article
Sensory Input Modulates Microsaccades during Heading Perception
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(6), 2865; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijerph18062865 - 11 Mar 2021
Viewed by 428
Abstract
Microsaccades are small eye movements produced during attempted fixation. During locomotion, the eyes scan the environment; the gaze is not always directed to the focus of expansion of the optic flow field. We sought to investigate whether the microsaccadic activity was modulated by [...] Read more.
Microsaccades are small eye movements produced during attempted fixation. During locomotion, the eyes scan the environment; the gaze is not always directed to the focus of expansion of the optic flow field. We sought to investigate whether the microsaccadic activity was modulated by eye position during the view of radial optic flow stimuli, and if the presence or lack of a proprioceptive input signal may influence the microsaccade characteristics during self-motion perception. We recorded the oculomotor activity when subjects were either standing or sitting in front of a screen during the view of optic flow stimuli that simulated specific heading directions with different gaze positions. We recorded five trials of each stimulus. Results showed that microsaccade duration, peak velocity, and rate were significantly modulated by optic flow stimuli and trial sequence. We found that the microsaccade rate increased in each condition from trial 1 to trial 5. Microsaccade peak velocity and duration were significantly different across trials. The analysis of the microsaccade directions showed that the different combinations of optic flow and eye position evoked non-uniform directions of microsaccades in standing condition with mean vectors in the upper-left quadrant of the visual field, uncorrelated with optic flow directions and eye positions. In sitting conditions, all stimuli evoked uniform directions of microsaccades. Present results indicate that the proprioceptive signals when the subjects stand up creates a different input that could alter the eye-movement characteristics during heading perceptions. Full article
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Article
Postural Control in Childhood: Investigating the Neurodevelopmental Gradient Hypothesis
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(4), 1693; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijerph18041693 - 10 Feb 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1732
Abstract
Neurodevelopmental disorders (NDDs) have been suggested to lie on a gradient continuum, all resulting from common brain disturbances, but with different degrees of impairment severity. This case-control study aimed to assess postural stability against such hypothesis in 104 children/adolescents aged 5–17, of whom [...] Read more.
Neurodevelopmental disorders (NDDs) have been suggested to lie on a gradient continuum, all resulting from common brain disturbances, but with different degrees of impairment severity. This case-control study aimed to assess postural stability against such hypothesis in 104 children/adolescents aged 5–17, of whom 81 had NDDs and 23 were healthy controls. Compared to healthy controls, Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) resulted in the most severely impaired neurodevelopmental condition, followed by Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) and Tourette Syndrome (TS). In particular, while ASD children/adolescents performed worse than healthy controls in a number of sensory conditions across all parameters, ADHD children/adolescents performed worse than healthy controls only in the sway area for the most complex sensory conditions, when their vision and somatosensory functions were both compromised, and performance in Tourette Syndrome (TS) was roughly indistinguishable from that of healthy controls. Finally, differences were also observed between clinical groups, with ASD children/adolescents, and to a much lesser extent ADHD children/adolescents, performing worse than TS children/adolescents, especially when sensory systems were not operationally accurate. Evidence from this study indicates that poor postural control may be a useful biomarker for risk assessment during neurodevelopment, in line with predictions from the gradient hypothesis. Full article
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Article
Analysis of Gait for Disease Stage in Patients with Parkinson’s Disease
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(2), 720; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijerph18020720 - 15 Jan 2021
Viewed by 770
Abstract
Understanding the motor patterns underlying the movement of individuals with Parkinson’s disease (PD) is fundamental to the effective targeting of non-pharmacological therapies. This study aimed to analyze the gait pattern in relation to the evolutionary stages I–II and III–IV according to the Hoehn [...] Read more.
Understanding the motor patterns underlying the movement of individuals with Parkinson’s disease (PD) is fundamental to the effective targeting of non-pharmacological therapies. This study aimed to analyze the gait pattern in relation to the evolutionary stages I–II and III–IV according to the Hoehn and Yahr (H&Y) scale in individuals affected by PD. The study was conducted with the participation of 37 PD patients with a mean age of 70.09 ± 9.53 years, and of whom 48.64% were women. The inclusion criteria were (1) to be diagnosed with PD; (2) to be in an evolutionary stage of the disease between I and IV: and (3) to be able to walk independently and without any assistance. Kinematic and spatial-temporal parameters of the gait were analyzed. The results showed differences in speed of movement, cadence, stride length, support duration, swing duration, step width, walking cycle duration, and double support time between the stages analyzed. These results confirmed the differences in PD gait pattern between stages I–II and III–IV. Different behaviors of the same variable were recorded depending on whether the right or left side was affected by PD. Full article
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