Central Nervous System Control of Dynamic Stability during Locomotion in Complex Environments
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A major function of the central nervous system (CNS) during locomotion is the ability to maintain dynamic stability during threats to balance. The CNS uses reactive, predictive, and anticipatory mechanisms in order to accomplish this. Previously, stability has been estimated using single measures. Since the entire body works as a system, dynamic stability should be examined by integrating kinematic, kinetic, and electromyographical measures of the whole body. This thesis examines three threats to stability (recovery from a frontal plane surface translation, stepping onto and walking on a compliant surface, and obstacle clearance on a compliant surface). These threats to stability would enable a full body stability analysis for reactive, predictive, and anticipatory CNS control mechanisms. From the results in this study, observing various biomechanical variables provides a more precise evaluation of dynamic stability and how it is achieved. Observations showed that different methods of increasing stability (eg. Lowering full body COM, increasing step width) were controlled by differing CNS mechanisms during a task. This provides evidence that a single measure cannot determine dynamic stability during a locomotion task and the body must be observed entirely to determine methods used in the maintenance of dynamic stability.