Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Exercise and Health Science

First Advisor

Azizah Jor'dan

Second Advisor

Suzanne Leveille

Third Advisor

Tongjian You


Type II diabetes mellitus (T2DM) often leads to deficits in vision, vestibular, and somatosensory systems. The reduction in the capacity to effectively integrate sensory information often results in cognition and balance control deficits, and subsequently increased fall risk. Suprapostural tasks integrates perceptual demands in the control of standing posture and can be used as a paradigm to determine the effect of T2DM on postural adaptation during a visual search task. We hypothesized that compared to healthy older adults (HOA), those with T2DM would demonstrate a lower capacity to adapt their postural control in response to the visual search tasks. In this cross-sectional, auxiliary pilot study, 24 HOA (mean age: 75.9 years) and 20 older adults diagnosed with T2DM (mean age: 76.3 years) were included in the analysis. Postural sway (i.e., jerk, velocity, range, path length and elliptical area) was recorded while participants stood upright and completed visual search tasks at two levels of difficulty: low difficulty (counting 1 target letter) and high difficulty (counting 2 target letters simultaneously). Each condition consisted of two 60 second trials. Each visual search trial was preceded by a control condition, in which participants were instructed to look at a blank white screen for 60 seconds. There were no group differences in absolute and percent change in postural sway measures from the control condition to visual search (i.e., postural adaptation). Across participants, there were negative associations regarding percent change anterior-posterior jerk (p<0.01) and percent change AP (p<0.01) and mediolateral path length (p<0.01) during performance of the LD condition. Overall, the data does not suggest that T2DM negatively impacts the capacity to maintain postural control during a visual search task. Instead, some measures of postural sway decreased during performance of the visual search task, similar to the HOA group, while other measures did not. During performance of a standing visual search task, postural control modulated in both the LD and HD conditions.


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