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Muscle contributions to the acceleration of the whole body centre of mass during recovery from forward loss of balance by stepping in young and older adults

David F Graham, Christopher P Carty, David G Lloyd, Rod S Barrett
PloS One 2017, 12 (10): e0185564
29069097
The purpose of this study was to determine the muscular contributions to the acceleration of the whole body centre of mass (COM) of older compared to younger adults that were able to recover from forward loss of balance with a single step. Forward loss of balance was achieved by releasing participants (14 older adults and 6 younger adults) from a static whole-body forward lean angle of approximately 18 degrees. 10 older adults and 6 younger adults were able to recover with a single step and included in subsequent analysis. 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 92 muscle actuators were computed using Static Optimisation and Induced Acceleration Analysis was used to compute individual muscle contributions to the three-dimensional acceleration of the whole body COM. There were no significant differences between older and younger adults in step length, step time, 3D COM accelerations or muscle contributions to 3D COM accelerations. The stance and stepping leg Gastrocnemius and Soleus muscles were primarily responsible for the vertical acceleration experienced by the COM. The Gastrocnemius and Soleus from the stance side leg together with bilateral Hamstrings accelerated the COM forwards throughout balance recovery while the Vasti and Soleus of the stepping side leg provided the majority of braking accelerations following foot contact. The Hip Abductor muscles provided the greatest contribution to medial-lateral accelerations of the COM. Deficits in the neuromuscular control of the Gastrocnemius, Soleus, Vasti and Hip Abductors in particular could adversely influence balance recovery and may be important targets in interventions to improve balance recovery performance.

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