Biomechanical aspects of the development of postural control: Jody Jensen and Renate van Zandwijk
Biomechanics refers to biological systems and how their physical properties interact with the physical environment. In this chapter we consider the effect of the changing biomechanics on skill acquisition in the developing child. Specifically, this analysis will focus on the development of postural control because of its prominence in early development and the critical role of postural control in the acquisition of other skills. Hurdles in developing postural control include the management of total body mass under both static and dynamic conditions as well as producing muscle forces appropriate to the external environment of gravity, contact and motion-dependent forces. Postural skill in particular requires control of the body’s mass and inertia: resistance to and task-appropriate exploitation of gravity as well as the accommodation to the effects of changing external forces. Understanding the developmental course of postural control and the biomechanics that underlie such skills is important to the early identification of atypical developmental processes and early identification of children in need of intervention.