Lower limb selection in a preferential reaching task: The influence of lateralization and balance control


Previous investigation and research (Bryden et al., 2001) has shown that when objects of interest are placed in either left or right hemispace, adult preferred hand use is found to typically decrease as they perform actions in the hemispace that is contralateral to their preferred hand. The purpose of this investigation was to explore the effects of changes to balance control during a similar lower limb reaching task. We hypothesized that the preferred limb would be that which is closest to the illuminated light, and would therefore be selected most often to complete these reaching tasks. Participants (n=10, 18-25 years) performed a preferential lower limb reaching task while seated, standing on flat surface, and standing on a foam surface. Seven Fit Lights were arranged in a semicircular configuration (0, +30, +60, +90, degrees) on the ground directly in front of the participant. Each light illuminated 5 times in a random order, and the participants were instructed to reach using their preferred foot to extinguish the light. Foot kinematics were recorded using the NDI Optotrak System. A two-way (condition x light location) repeated measure ANOVA was conducted. Results indicated no significant differences in limb selection for the seated and standing conditions, however the foam pad condition resulted in participants having a strong preference to balance consistently on their dominant foot, while using their non-dominant foot to reach the illuminated lights. In conclusion, balance control has a moderate influence on lower limb selection as the participants are challenged to complete the limb selection task with a higher degree of balance manipulation.