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Mechanisms for human balancing of an inverted pendulum using the ankle strategy

Loram, Ian David (2003)
Ph.D. thesis, University of Birmingham.

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Maintenance of upright, human balance is neurologically and biomechanically a complex process, though the ankle strategy predominates in quiet standing. This investigation seeks insight into the complex problem by studying a reduced, yet related problem of how the ankle mechanisms are used to balance a human proportioned inverted pendulum. A distinguishing feature of the task is that despite one's best efforts to control this unstable load some irreducible sway always remains. Contrary to published ideas, modulation of effective ankle stiffness was not the way that sway size was altered. Rather, position was controlled by an intermittent, neurally modulated, ballistic-like pattern of torque whose anticipatory accuracy was improved to reduce sway size. Using a model, and by direct measurement, I found the intrinsic mechanical ankle stiffness will only partially counter the "gravitational spring". Since this stiffness was substantially constant and cannot be neurally modulated, I attribute it to the foot, tendon and aponeurosis rather than the activated calf muscle fibres. Thus triceps-surae muscles maintain balance via a spring-like element which is itself generally too compliant to provide even minimal stability. I hypothesise that balance is maintained by anticipatory, ballistic-like, biasing of the series-elastic element resulting from intermittent modulation of the triceps-surae.

Type of Work:Ph.D. thesis.
School/Faculty:Schools (1998 to 2008) > School of Sport & Exercise Science
Department:Applied Physiology Research Group
Subjects:RC1200 Sports Medicine
Institution:University of Birmingham
ID Code:4974
This unpublished thesis/dissertation is copyright of the author and/or third parties. The intellectual property rights of the author or third parties in respect of this work are as defined by The Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 or as modified by any successor legislation. Any use made of information contained in this thesis/dissertation must be in accordance with that legislation and must be properly acknowledged. Further distribution or reproduction in any format is prohibited without the permission of the copyright holder.
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