Minimizing postural demands of walking while still emphasizing locomotor force generation for nonimpaired individuals

Academic Article


  • In motor control studies, the interdependent nature of the neural controllers for posture and locomotion makes it difficult to separate components of stepping control from postural maintenance functions. To better understand the separate influences of postural versus locomotor control during walking, we fabricated a novel postural support apparatus. This apparatus was intended to minimize the postural demands of walking but allow for matched locomotor force generation, thus isolating the control of stepping. We tested the ability of this support apparatus to minimize the postural demands of walking tasks for nonimpaired participants (N = 20) and characterized the behavior of these participants when walking in this environment. We demonstrated that the apparatus reduced trunk motion in flexion/extension, lateral flexion, and transverse rotation, minimized peak vertical ground reaction forces to 15.8% body weight, and reduced total positive and negative work compared to walking with typical postural demands. In addition, using visual feedback, participants were able to successfully match vertical forces during supported walking to those of walking with typical postural demands. We plan to use this apparatus to design future experiments exploring mechanisms underlying postural and locomotor control in both nonimpaired walking and of individuals with impaired coordination of posture and stepping.
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Graham SA; Hurt CP; Brown DA
  • Start Page

  • 1003
  • End Page

  • 1010
  • Volume

  • 26
  • Issue

  • 5