Background: Falls are common during pregnancy and present potential for injury to the pregnant individual and the baby. Research question: Do center of pressure characteristics during single leg stance differ between participants during and after pregnancy and nulligravida participants in the presence and absence of visual input? Methods: Nineteen pregnant participants completed testing during the second trimester, the third trimester, and 4–6 months post-partum. Matched, nulligravida females completed testing once. All participants performed single leg stance on a force platform on each limb for up to 20 s with eyes open and with eyes closed. Center of pressure characteristics were compared between pregnant and nulligravida females using three separate 2 × 2 mixed way ANOVAs, one for each pregnancy time point (second trimester, third trimester, and post-partum) with Bonferroni correction. Results: Pregnant females demonstrated smaller single leg stance time with eyes closed during the third trimester. During the second and third trimester, pregnant participants demonstrated smaller sway and sway velocity across eyes open and eyes closed conditions. During the third trimester and post-partum, pregnant participants demonstrated greater median frequency of the center of pressure data. Pregnant participants also demonstrated smaller sample entropy in the anteroposterior direction during the second and third trimesters and in the mediolateral direction during the second trimester. Significance: The decreased total sway and sway velocity observed during pregnancy may reflect rigidity or a protective strategy during single limb stance. Additionally, center of pressure data were less smooth and more repetitive during pregnancy indicating robust differences in postural control strategies and potentially increased fall risk. Because single limb stance is a component of many activities of daily living, the single limb stance task may have clinical utility for testing or training balance in this population with a goal of decreasing falls.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Orthopedics and Sports Medicine