Biological Cybernetics

, Volume 91, Issue 4, pp 212–220 | Cite as

Mechanical model of the recovery from stumbling

  • A. Forner Cordero
  • H. J. F. M. Koopman
  • F. C. T. van der Helm


Several strategies have been described as a reaction to a stumble during gait. The elevating strategy, which tries to proceed with the perturbed step, was executed as a response to a perturbation during early swing. The lowering strategy, bringing the perturbed leg to the ground and overtaking the obstacle with the contralateral limb, was executed more frequently when the perturbation appeared at mid or late swing. The goal of this paper is to analyze which mechanical factors determine the most advantageous strategy. In order to determine these factors, a mechanical model of the recovery was developed and used to analyze a series of perturbation experiments. It was assumed that the goal of the recovery reaction was to control the trunk as an inverted pendulum during the double-stance phase. In order to be able to control the trunk angle, one foot should be up front and one foot should be behind the hips; otherwise it would be impossible to generate the required trunk torques. The trunk dynamics were expressed in terms of the ground reaction forces and their application point. A larger step (elevation strategy) gives the opportunity to dissolve the perturbation in one step. A small step (lowering strategy) necessarily results in a second quick step, after which the perturbation energy can be dissipated in the second double-stance phase. If a recovery step is too slow, it becomes impossible to counteract the forward flexion of the trunk. It is suggested that a measure of the ability to recover from a stumble could be based on the ability to perform quick steps.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. Forner Cordero
    • 1
    • 2
  • H. J. F. M. Koopman
    • 1
  • F. C. T. van der Helm
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute for Biomedical Technology (BMTI)Biomedische Werktuigbouwkunde, CTW Gebouw, Universiteit TwenteAE EnschedeThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Motor Control LaboratoryDepartment of Kinesiology, Group Biomedical SciencesLeuvenBelgium

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