Author(s): Qiao M, Jindrich DL
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Abstract Locomotion in a complex environment is often not steady, but the mechanisms used by animals to power and control unsteady locomotion (stability and maneuverability) are not well understood. We use behavioral, morphological, and impulsive perturbations to determine the compensations used during unsteady locomotion. At the level both of the whole-body and of joints, quasi-stiffness models are useful for describing adjustments to the functioning of legs and joints during maneuvers. However, alterations to the mechanics of legs and joints often are distinct for different phases of the step cycle or for specific joints. For example, negotiating steps involves independent changes of leg stiffness during compression and thrust phases of stance. Unsteady locomotion also involves parameters that are not part of the simplest reduced-parameter models of locomotion (e.g., the spring-loaded inverted pendulum) such as moments of the hip joint. Extensive coupling among translational and rotational parameters must be taken into account to stabilize locomotion or maneuver. For example, maneuvers with morphological perturbations (increased rotational inertial turns) involve changes to several aspects of movement, including the initial conditions of rotation and ground-reaction forces. Coupled changes to several parameters may be employed to control maneuvers on a trial-by-trial basis. Compensating for increased rotational inertia of the body during turns is facilitated by the opposing effects of several mechanical and behavioral parameters. However, the specific rules used by animals to control translation and rotation of the body to maintain stability or maneuver have not been fully characterized. We initiated direct-perturbation experiments to investigate the strategies used by humans to maintain stability following center-of-mass (COM) perturbations. When walking, humans showed more resistance to medio-lateral perturbations (lower COM displacement). However, when running, humans could recover from the point of maximum COM displacement faster than when walking. Consequently, the total time necessary for recovery was not significantly different between walking and running. Future experiments will determine the mechanisms used for compensations during unsteady locomotion at the behavioral, joint, and muscle levels. Using reduced-parameter models will allow common experimental and analytical frameworks for the study of both stability and maneuverability and the determination of general control strategies for unsteady locomotion. © The Author 2014. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology. All rights reserved. For permissions please email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article was published in Integr Comp Biol
and referenced in Journal of Biometrics & Biostatistics