A reflexive or automatic postural response that occurs due to a shift of the center of mass. The three main types of balance reactions are ankle, hip and stepping strategy. They can all be used as an anticipatory reaction (or feed forward) or as an adaptive response (or feedback/reactionary). Research supports that skilled physical therapy training can speed up the execution of an appropriate balance reaction in older adults with balance impairment.
Specifically, training can reduce latency of initiation of a balance reaction, improve the selection of appropriate balance reaction for a certain perturbation and improve adequacy of balance reaction selected to prevent loss of balance. These responses are considered “automatic” because the latency of muscle activation is less (or faster) than voluntary muscle contraction in response to a perturbation of center of mass.
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