Biomechanics of Human Balance

From a biomechanics perspective, human balance refers to the body’s ability to maintain an upright posture by keeping its center of mass positioned over a base of support. This can involve a fixed base of support (for standing) or a moving base of support (for walking or regaining balance after a slip). Balance ability can be studied using ground reactions (force patterns at the foot-floor interface), body segment kinematics (motion of upper/lower extremities), and electromyography (electrical signature of muscles when contracting). Specific projects related to human balance are described below.

Recent and Current Research

Age-Related Changes in Joint Dynamics

Principal Investigator(s): Gregory King, Ph.D.
Funded by: University of Missouri Research Board, UMKC Research Board, $33,320
Goal: As a preliminary step in understanding fall risk in older adults, the goal of this work is to characterize age-related changes in joint dynamics during balance recovery maneuvers. An inverse dynamics model, operating on force platform and motion capture data obtained during a laboratory-induced balance disturbance is used to quantify net forces and moments in the ankle, knee, and hip joints in young and older adults. Planned future work in this area includes computational modeling and simulation of falls and design of rehabilitative activities to reduce fall risk.

Postural Correlates of Deception

Principal Investigator(s): Christopher Lovelace, Ph.D.
Co-Principal Investigator(s): Gregory King, Ph.D., Reza Derakhshani, Ph.D.
Funded by: Center for Identification Technology Research (National Science Foundation Industry/University Cooperative Research Center), $30,000
Goal: The purpose of this work is to investigate the feasibility of using postural balance data as a means of credibility assessment. Postural data collected during a deception-inducing paradigm will be analyzed using non-linear artificial neural networks (ANNs) to discriminate between truthful and deceptive responses. The measurement approach used in this work offers distinct advantages over conventional methodologies for credibility assessment.

Use of Pervious Concrete to Reduce Slip-Related Falls

Principal Investigator(s): John T. Kevern, Ph.D., LEED AP
Co-Principal Investigator(s): Gregory King, Ph.D.
Funded by: National Science Foundation (NSF), $40,000
Goal: Use of pervious concrete pavement, compared with traditional concrete, can potentially reduce slip-related falls because it allows water drainage away from its surface and prevents subsequent ice buildup. Therefore the purpose of this work is to compare biomechanical measures of gait when walking on traditional and pervious concrete surfaces. This work may lead to design recommendations on the use of pervious concrete as a safer walking surface.

MRI: Acquisition of an Experimental Platform to Support Research and Educational Activities in Human Motion

Principal Investigator(s): Trent Guess, Ph.D.
Co-Principal Investigator(s): Greg King, Ph.D., Reza Derakshani, Ph.D., Walter Leon-Sallas, Ph.D.
Funded by: The National Science Foundation (NSF), $263,685, 9/1/08 to 8/31/11 Award
Award Number: CBET-0821459
Goal: To obtain equipment related to the measurement of human motion through the National Science Foundation’s Major Research Instrumentation program.