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Gait Posture. 1999 Mar;9(1):38-49.

Evaluation of a model that determines the stability limits of dynamic balance.

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Department of Biomedical Engineering, Northwestern University, 2145 Sheridan Rd., Evanston, IL 60208, USA.


A recent model of balance control has revealed two types of boundaries describing stability limits for center of mass (CM) dynamics: torque boundaries and state boundaries. The purpose of this study was to determine if these boundaries correctly characterize empirical data. We analyzed 2367 trials from 10 subjects who recovered their balance after they voluntarily pulled on a handle. We hypothesized that if model predictions were valid, both types of boundaries should encompass the empirical trajectories. We also hypothesized that each trajectory's nearest distance to the torque boundaries (the torque safety margin) would be correlated with the center of pressure (COP) safety margin, defined as the COP's nearest distance to the edge of the feet. The results supported the accuracy of the model-derived boundaries, with torque boundaries encompassing 100% and state boundaries encompassing 99.8% of the trials. Moreover, torque safety margins were highly correlated with COP safety margins, supporting the use of COP safety margins for estimating relative stability in dynamic tasks where balance is maintained. The distributions of the trajectories also suggested that a safety margin-oriented control strategy might be a robust alternative to the hypothesis that the central nervous system strives to optimize motion. The distinctions among different safety margins are discussed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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