Dynamic Postural Control in Children: Do the Arms Lend the Legs a Helping Hand?

Matt Hill, Maximilian Wdowski, Adam Pennell, David Stodden, Michael Duncan

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10 Citations (Scopus)
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There is growing empirical evidence lending support to the existence of an “upper body strategy” to extend the ankle and hip strategies in maintaining upright postural stability among adults. Both postural stability and arm movement functions are still developing in children. Therefore, enquiry concerning arm contribution to postural stability among children is needed. This proof of concept study seeks to determine whether the arms play a functionally relevant role in dynamic postural control among children. Twenty-nine children (girls, n = 15; age, 10.6 ± 0.5 years; height, 1.48 ± 0.08 m; mass, 42.8 ± 11.4 kg; BMI, 19.2 ± 3.7 kg/m2) completed three dynamic balance tests; (1) Y Balance test®, (2) timed balance beam walking test, (3) transition from dynamic to static balance using the dynamic postural stability index (DPSI). Each test was performed with free and restricted arm movement. Restricting arm movements elicited a marked degradation in the Y Balance reach distance (all directions, P ≤ 0.001, d = -0.85 to -1.13) and timed balance beam walking test (P ≤ 0.001, d = 1.01), while the DPSI was the only metric that was not different between free and restricted arm movements (P = 0.335, d = -0.08). This study provides direct evidence that the arms play a functionally relevant role in dynamic balance performance among children. These findings may provide the impetus to develop training interventions to improve the use of the arms in activities of daily living.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1932
Number of pages8
JournalFrontiers in Physiology
Publication statusPublished - 17 Jan 2019

Bibliographical note

Copyright © 2019 Hill, Wdowski, Pennell, Stodden and Duncan. This is an openaccess article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

Copyright © and Moral Rights are retained by the author(s) and/ or other copyright owners. A copy can be downloaded for personal non-commercial research or study, without prior permission or charge. This item cannot be reproduced or quoted extensively from without first obtaining permission in writing from the copyright holder(s). The content must not be changed in any way or sold commercially in any format or medium without the formal permission of the copyright holders.


  • Arm movements
  • Balance regulation
  • Children
  • Mobility
  • Upper extremities

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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