Effects of varying acceleration of platform translation and toes-up rotations on the pattern and magnitude of balance reactions in humans

J Vestib Res. 1998 Sep-Oct;8(5):381-97.


Different movement synergies used to restore balance in response to sudden support surface displacements have been described, which include the ankle movement synergy and a number of multisegmental movement synergies. The purpose of this study was to extend the analysis of the effects of stimulus magnitude on the pattern and scaling of balance reactions to larger magnitudes of balance disturbances, and to other types of balance disturbances, in particular, forward translations (FT), backward translations (BT), and toes-up rotations (RT). In addition, we examined whether the timing and magnitude of center of body mass (CM) displacement is an invariant feature of corrective responses to varying magnitudes of balance disturbances. Thirteen healthy adults were subjected to FT, BT, and RT of varying acceleration/velocity. The balance disturbance induced by FT and BT was fundamentally different from that induced by RT. The balance requirement during FT and BT was to rapidly translate the CM forward/backward to the new position within the displaced base of support. For RT, the requirement was to minimize the backward displacement of the CM. As evidenced from the initial phase of ankle, knee, and hip angular displacements and anterior-posterior (A-P) center of foot pressure displacement, the magnitude of the balance disturbance increased with increasing platform acceleration/velocity. For FT and BT, the present findings are consistent with the view that trajectory of CM is a control variable, as the timing, peak magnitude, and time to peak CM displacement did not vary as a function of platform acceleration/velocity. However, for RT, the peak magnitude and time to peak CM displacement did increase with increasing platform acceleration/velocity. The results demonstrate that in response to FT, BT, and RT, stability was restored by distinct multisegmental movement synergies. The corrective response to FT consisted of early knee flexion then ankle dorsiflexion and hip extension. The corrective response to BT consisted of hip flexion and ankle plantar flexion. For RT early hip flexion and knee flexion was observed. All muscles recorded (tibialis anterior, soleus, gastrocnemius, hamstrings, and quadriceps) were activated within a range of 60 to 170 ms from onset of platform displacement. For FT, BT, and RT, the pattern and timing of angular displacements and muscle responses did not vary as a function of platform acceleration/velocity, while there was a significant effect of platform acceleration/velocity on the magnitude of the corrective response, that is, peak magnitude of corrective hip, knee, and ankle angular displacements and magnitude of muscle responses. The present findings indicate that multiple sources of spatial information are necessary for the selection and initiation of the appropriate corrective response to meet the requirements of the different balance tasks. The present results strongly endorse the concept of a postural control network for recovery of standing balance, as opposed to positive feedback through local segmental or long loop reflex circuits.

MeSH terms

  • Acceleration*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Electromyography
  • Female
  • Gravitation
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motor Activity / physiology*
  • Postural Balance / physiology*
  • Posture / physiology*
  • Rotation*
  • Toes