This study was focused upon the evaluation of postural sway in sitting of normal and neurologically impaired children. A postural tracking system was used to monitor stability (trunk sway) during static sitting on a conventional horizontal seat base, and to examine the effects of two seat base positions (flat and forward inclined) on sway of children with cerebral palsy and children with traumatic head injury. A linear relationship was observed between sway while sitting on a flat seat base and age of normal children. The exponential nature of decrease in sway with age was not evident, and appeared to be a linear function. When comparing age matched neurologic and normal groups of children, no significant differences were noted in the amount of sway recorded. In comparing the effects of seat base positions on sway, no difference was evident for either group of disabled children when the data were examined at the group level. Individual data inspection, however, revealed differences between children with cerebral palsy and head injury. Qualitative analysis indicated that in some children, a forward inclined seat produced an increase in sway resulting in a more upright and stable sitting posture, while in other children, a decrease in sway resulted in similar postural changes. The underlying assumption that a reduction in sway is necessary for achieving improved postural control in sitting in certain groups of neurologically disabled individuals is questioned, and implications for future research are discussed.
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