Review Article

Dynamic Balance during Human Movement: Measurement and Control Mechanisms

[+] Author and Article Information
Richard Neptune

Department of Mechanical Engineering, The University of Texas at Austin, 204 E. Dean Keeton Street, Stop C2200, Austin, TX 78712-1591

Arian Vistamehr

Motion Analysis Center, Brooks Rehabilitation, Jacksonville, FL, USA

1Corresponding author.

ASME doi:10.1115/1.4042170 History: Received January 30, 2018; Revised November 16, 2018


Walking can be exceedingly complex to analyze due to highly nonlinear multi-body dynamics, nonlinear relationships between muscle excitations and resulting muscle forces, dynamic coupling that allows muscles to accelerate joints and segments they do not span, and redundant muscle control. Walking requires the successful execution of a number of biomechanical functions such as providing body support, forward propulsion and balance control, with specific muscle groups contributing to their execution. Thus, muscle injury or neurological impairment that affects muscle output can alter the successful execution of these functions and impair walking performance. The loss of balance control in particular can result in falls and subsequent injuries that lead to the loss of mobility and functional independence. Thus, it is important to assess the mechanisms used to control balance in clinical populations using reliable methods with the ultimate goal of improving rehabilitation outcomes. In this review, we highlight common clinical and laboratory-based measures used to assess balance control and their potential limitations, show how these measures have been used to analyze balance in several clinical populations, and consider the translation of specific laboratory-based measures from the research laboratory to the clinic.

Copyright (c) 2018 by ASME
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