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The Gerontologist 42:552-559 (2002)
© 2002 The Gerontological Society of America

The Influence of Commercial-Grade Carpet on Postural Sway and Balance Strategy Among Older Adults

Joan I. Dickinson, PhD,IIDAa, JoAnn L. Shroyer, PhDb and Jeffrey W. Elias, PhDc

a Department of Consumer Affairs, Auburn University, AL
b Merchandising, Environmental Design, and Consumer Economics, Texas Tech University, Lubbock
c Behavioral and Biobehavioral Processes—5, Center for Scientific Review, Bethesda, MD

Correspondence: Joan I. Dickinson, PhD,IIDA, IIDA, Department of Consumer Affairs, 308 Spidle Hall, Auburn University, Auburn, AL 36849-5603. E-mail: dickiji{at}

Decision Editor: Laurence G. Branch, PhD

Purpose: The purpose of this research study was to examine the effect of a selected commercial-grade carpet on the static balance of healthy, older adults who had not fallen more than twice in the last 6 months. Design and Methods: We tested a total of 45 participants. Each participant stood on a computerized balance machine and was subjected to a carpeted versus a noncarpeted condition while exposed to various sensory limitations. We measured both postural sway and balance strategy. Results:The selected commercial-grade carpet did not affect postural sway. The participants were able to adapt to the sensory limitations regardless of whether they were standing on the carpet. Although balance strategy scores were significantly lower during the carpeted conditions, the clinical significance was questionable as the difference between the means was small for practical purposes. Implications:Healthy, older adults did not have difficulty maintaining static balance on the carpeted surface; however, the results could be different if participants who had a history of falling had been included. The results from this study are important and provide a basis of comparison for those individuals who have experienced more than two falls in the last 6 months or who have a history of falling.

Key Words: Balance • Posturography • Flooring • Fall • Sensory Organization Test (SOT)

All GSA journals Journals of Gerontology Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences Journals of Gerontology Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences
Copyright © 2002 by The Gerontological Society of America.