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Dynamic control of posture across locomotor tasks


  • Gammon M. Earhart PhD, PT

    Corresponding author
    1. Program in Physical Therapy, Washington University in St. Louis School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri
    2. Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology, Washington University in St. Louis School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri
    3. Department of Neurology, Washington University in St. Louis School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri
    • Correspondence to: Dr. Gammon M. Earhart, Program in Physical Therapy, Washington University School of Medicine, Campus Box 8502, 4444 Forest Park Boulevard, St. Louis, MO 63108;

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  • Funding agencies: This work was supported through grants from the National Institutes of Health (R01 NS077959, UL1 TR000448). General support came from the Greater St. Louis American Parkinson Disease Association (APDA) and the APDA Advanced Center for Parkinson's Disease Research at Washington University.

  • Relevant conflicts of interest/financial disclosures: Nothing to report.

  • Full financial disclosures may be found in the online version of this article.


Successful locomotion depends on postural control to establish and maintain appropriate postural orientation of body segments relative to one another and to the environment and to ensure dynamic stability of the moving body. This article provides a framework for considering dynamic postural control, highlighting the importance of coordination, consistency, and challenges to postural control posed by various locomotor tasks, such as turning and backward walking. The impacts of aging and various movement disorders on postural control are discussed broadly in an effort to provide a general overview of the field and recommendations for assessment of dynamic postural control across different populations in both clinical and research settings. Suggestions for future research on dynamic postural control during locomotion also are provided and include discussion of opportunities afforded by new and developing technologies, the need for long-term monitoring of locomotor performance in everyday activities, gaps in our knowledge of how targeted intervention approaches modify dynamic postural control, and the relative paucity of literature regarding dynamic postural control in movement disorder populations other than Parkinson's disease. © 2013 International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society