, Volume 187, Issue 3, pp 407-417

Responses to multi-directional surface translations involve redistribution of proximal versus distal strategies to maintain upright posture

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Evaluation of postural control in multiple planes is necessary to determine the movement strategies used to respond to unexpected perturbations. The present study quantified net joint torques of the lower limbs and trunk in the sagittal and frontal planes following multi-directional surface translations. Twenty-one healthy subjects stood with feet on separate force plates mounted on a moveable platform, translated unexpectedly in one of 12 directions. Peak net torque magnitudes and latencies following perturbation onset were determined as were the relative contributions of each joint to total torque production. Magnitude of net torque generated by each leg varied by perturbation direction, with the largest individual joint magnitude elicited in directions of limb loading. Relative contributions of individual joint torques to the total response were dependent upon perturbation direction. Results suggest that a redistribution of the relative contributions of hip/trunk versus ankle strategies occurs dependent on perturbation direction, with a significant contribution by the knee joint in response to forward perturbations. Direction-specific redistribution of proximal versus distal strategies appears to depend upon the biomechanical constraints imposed by a given perturbation direction. Thus, it appears that sagittal and frontal plane posture-righting responses may not be uniquely controlled, and may instead be governed similarly, with modulation of relative torque contributions among joints when necessary, given direction-specific anatomical constraints.