- Open Access
Understanding age-related modifications of motor control strategies
© Micera; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. 2008
Received: 03 November 2008
Accepted: 11 November 2008
Published: 11 November 2008
The last century handed us over a considerably older population, particularly in the developed countries. Life expectancy, which in the industrialized countries at the beginning of the 1900's, was barely 47 years, has progressively increased and today is almost 80 years, with women in an advantageous position. Moreover, the real qualitative leap is represented by the conditions in which ageing takes place, conditions that till now were inconceivable for past generations, such as the level of education, the health status and the economic resources.
The ability to maintain balance during locomotion is also naturally reduced due to ageing and this leads to fatigue and increased fall risks as the most important consequences . Falling represents one of the most worrying events for elderly people because it involves several aspects of the autonomous daily life, healthy, costs for the single subjects and costs for the society in order to increase suitable structures and manage employees, therapists and assistance.
Differences can also be found in the analysis of reaching movements . Interestingly, elders seem to deal with the modifications in their abilities by finding alternative solutions "customized" to their conditions and possibilities. This is something we could expect: the change in the properties of the "plant" asks for a redefinition of the control strategies to (try to) achieve the same level of performance.
Special issue on "Age-related modifications of motor control strategies"
The aim of this special issue (SI) was to show the results achieved by some interesting and promising activities in this specific field. Even if it was not possible to cover all the possible research subjects, many important aspects have been addressed by the authors of the manuscripts published in the SI.
Fradet and colleagues and Cesqui and colleagues studied how ageing affects the generation and control of upper limb movements with a particular attention to the generation of sub-movements and the learning of internal models to deal with modified dynamic environments, respectively.
Mazzà and colleagues investigated different aspects related to the coordination between upper and lower extremities during walking.
Bock and Priest and colleagues analyzed how increased cognitive efforts are able to modify the performance of elders and the motor control strategy they implement. This is a very important issue because elders are asked to deal with multiple challenging tasks in many activities of daily living
The guest editor would like to thank the authors and reviewers for their contribution to this special issue.
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