Muscle contributions to recovery from forward loss of balance by stepping

David F Graham, Christopher P Carty, David G Lloyd, Glen A Lichtwark, Rod S Barrett
Journal of Biomechanics 2014 February 7, 47 (3): 667-74
The purpose of this study was to determine the muscular contributions to the stepping phase of recovery from forward loss of balance in 5 young and 5 older adults that were able to recover balance in a single step, and 5 older adults that required multiple steps. Forward loss of balance was achieved by releasing participants from a static forward lean angle. All participants were instructed to attempt to recover balance by taking a rapid single step. A scalable anatomical model consisting of 36 degrees-of-freedom was used to compute kinematics and joint moments from motion capture and force plate data. Forces for 94 muscle actuators were computed using static optimisation and induced acceleration analysis was used to compute individual muscle contributions to net lumbar spine joint, and stepping side hip joint and knee joint accelerations during recovery. Older adults that required multiple recovery steps used a significantly shorter and faster initial recovery step and adopted significantly more trunk flexion throughout recovery compared to the older single steppers. Older multiple steppers also produced significantly more force in the stance side hamstrings, which resulted in significantly higher hamstring induced flexion accelerations at the lumbar spine and extension accelerations at the hip. However since the net joint lumbar spine and hip accelerations remained similar between older multiple steppers and older single steppers, we suggest that the recovery strategy adopted by older multiple steppers was less efficient as well as less effective than for older single steppers.

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