Date of Award

2007

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science Honours

School

School of Biomedical and Sports Science

Faculty

Faculty of Computing, Health and Science

First Advisor

John Cronin

Abstract

There is a large amount of conjecture surrounding the reliability of methods of balance assessment and the outcome variables used to assess balance in pediatric populations. There has also been limited research conducted on the balance ability of an athletic pediatric population, and the factors which may affect that ability. The purpose of this research is firstly to determine the reliability of postural sway measures used to assess balance including: average displacement of the centre of pressure in the mediolateral and anterior-posterior directions relative to both the centre of the plate and the centre of the base of support; peak to peak displacement in the mediolateral and anterior-posterior directions; total sway path length; average velocity; and, area of the 95th percentile ellipse. Secondly, this research will assess the influence of age, sex, leg dominance, body mass index, previous lower limb injury and sport participation specificity on static balance ability. A total of 85 subjects (44 males; 41 females) participated in this study. Each participant performed three trials of each condition in the following order: bilateral stance with eyes open, bilateral stance with eyes closed, left leg with eyes open, left leg with eyes closed, right leg with eyes open and right leg with eyes closed. Reliability of postural sway measures over the different conditions varied [Intratest Reliability: coefficient of variations (CV) = 2.13%- 115.90%; Test-retest reliability: % change in mean= 0.1%- 28.5%; CV = 2.44% - 90.90%; intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC) = 0.14- 0.89]. Total path length, average velocity, the average deviation of the mediolateral centre of pressure from the centre of the base of support and the average deviation of the anterior-posterior centre of pressure from the centre of the base of support were the most reliable measures both within and between tests. In terms of the second study girls were found to have significantly better balance ability during single leg stance than boys (p<0.05). Balance was shown to improve significantly with age from 12 and 13 years to 15 years old, during the right leg stance with eyes open condition. For the majority of conditions no significant differences were found between dominant and non-dominant legs, subjects with and without recurrent injuries and subjects from different sports. The results of this study provide normative information for coaches, trainers and clinicians who work with athletic children.

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