Can Visual References Enhance Balance Control in the Occupational Environment in Both Younger and Older Construction Workers?

Faculty Researcher:Shirley Rietdyk, PhD, Assistant Professor, Dept. of Health and Kinesiology, Purdue University

A worker’s postural stability can be compromised by many influences, including the dynamic visual field within the work environment and the age of the worker. The proposed project draws on fundamental balance research and applies it to a worker population within the laboratory. This project will determine if a stable visual reference within a dynamic visual environment enhances balance control, and further, if postural stability enhanced in both younger and older workers. Also, the project will compare construction workers to non-construction workers, which is relevant to the introduction of new workers to the construction site, particularly when the new worker is older. The goal is to better understand workers’ postural stability to address the following NORA priorities: 1) traumatic injury, and 2) special populations at risk. The results have potential use in preventing fatalities in industries involving a risk of falling. This project will lead to future research that includes a systematic analysis of potential factors which compromise stability at the worksite, and the potential mitigation of those factors through environmental changes.


Publications resulting from this project:
orgerud SR, Rietdyk S, McGlothlin JD. Sensory re-weighting in postural control as a function of work experience in visually challenging environments. Experimental Brain Research. 2006;167(2):260-267. DOI: 10.1007/s00221-005-0053-7.

Grants resulting from this project:
Interdisciplinary Innovation Initiative, School of Technology, Purdue. Interdisciplinary Airline Job Hazard Assessment (PI: Eiff,Co-PI: Rietdyk, McGlothlin).05/01/2004 – 04/30/2005.

Research trainee’s current position:
Shirley Rietdyk is currently an Associate Professor in the Dept. of Health and Kinesiology at Purdue University.