Postural control requires the integration of sensorimotor information to maintain balance and to properly position and orient the body in response to external stimuli. Age-related declines in peripheral and central sensory and motor function contribute to postural instability and falls. This study investigated the contribution of head position, standing surface, and vision on postural sway in 26 community-dwelling older adults. Participants were asked to maintain a stable posture under conditions that varied standing surface, head position, and the availability of visual information. Significant main and interaction effects were found for all three factors. Findings from this study suggest that postural sway responses require the integration of available sources of sensory information. These results have important implications for fall risks in older adults and suggest that when standing with the head extended and eyes closed, older adults may place themselves at risk for postural disequilibrium and loss of balance.

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