Human Balance Responses to Perturbations in the Horizontal Plane

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Fritschi M., Jelinek H. F., McGloughlin T., Khalaf K., Khandoker A. H., and Vallery H.: Human Balance Responses to Perturbations in the Horizontal Plane

Human balance strategies during standing have been studied extensively. Most of these studies rely on perturbations to the feet, for example by moving platforms or treadmills, and focus on the sagittal plane. Less research has been done on reactions to perturbations to the upper body, and the direction dependence of stabilizing strategies is still an open question. Here, we describe an experiment where we apply horizontal static pulling forces to the upper body of standing human subjects in different directions by means of an overhead robotic device, the FLOAT. Based on a simplified mechanical model, we propose the normalized displacement of the center of pressure, the ΔCoPn, as a measure of the selected balance strategy. We find that existing neuromechanical models do not fully explain responses to these static horizontal forces, because they predict too much CoP movement. Further, we found a tendency to particularly reduce CoP movement in anterior-posterior direction, indicating that reconfiguration of the body may play a larger role in this direction.