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BioMed Research International
Volume 2015, Article ID 891390, 15 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2015/891390
Review Article

Techniques and Methods for Testing the Postural Function in Healthy and Pathological Subjects

Physical Activity, Performance and Health Laboratory, Department of STAPS, University of Pau and Pays de l’Adour, ZA Bastillac Sud, 65000 Tarbes, France

Received 14 July 2015; Revised 5 October 2015; Accepted 21 October 2015

Academic Editor: Jacob J. Sosnoff

Copyright © 2015 Thierry Paillard and Frédéric Noé. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

The different techniques and methods employed as well as the different quantitative and qualitative variables measured in order to objectify postural control are often chosen without taking into account the population studied, the objective of the postural test, and the environmental conditions. For these reasons, the aim of this review was to present and justify the different testing techniques and methods with their different quantitative and qualitative variables to make it possible to precisely evaluate each sensory, central, and motor component of the postural function according to the experiment protocol under consideration. The main practical and technological methods and techniques used in evaluating postural control were explained and justified according to the experimental protocol defined. The main postural conditions (postural stance, visual condition, balance condition, and test duration) were also analyzed. Moreover, the mechanistic exploration of the postural function often requires implementing disturbing postural conditions by using motor disturbance (mechanical disturbance), sensory stimulation (sensory manipulation), and/or cognitive disturbance (cognitive task associated with maintaining postural balance) protocols. Each type of disturbance was tackled in order to facilitate understanding of subtle postural control mechanisms and the means to explore them.