Time evolution of frontal plane dynamic balance during locomotor transitions of altered anticipation and complexity

Wentao Li, Nathaniel T. Pickle, Nicholas P. Fey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Background: Locomotor transitions between different ambulatory tasks are essential activities of daily life. During these transitions, biomechanics are affected by various factors such as anticipation, movement direction, and task complexity. These factors are thought to influence the neuromotor regulation of dynamic balance, which can be quantified using whole-body angular momentum (H). However, the specific effects of these factors on balance during transitions are not well understood. The ability to regulate dynamic balance in the presence of these contextual factors is especially important in the frontal plane, as it is usually challenging to maintain walking balance in the frontal plane for individuals with neuromuscular impairments. The purpose of this study was to apportion their effects on the time evolution of frontal plane dynamic balance during locomotor transitions of healthy, unimpaired individuals. Methods: Five healthy young subjects performed 10 separate types of transitions with discrete combinations of factors including complexity (straight walking, cuts, combined cut/stair ascent), cut style (crossover, sidestep), and anticipation (anticipated and unanticipated). A three-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) was used to compare the maxima, minima, and average rates of change of frontal-plane H among all transitions. Results: Before transition, within anticipated state peak value of H increased 307% in crossover style relative to sidestep style (p < 0.0001). During Transition Phase, within unanticipated state the magnitudes of average rate of change and peak value increased 70 and 46% in sidestep style compared to crossover style (p < 0.0001 and p = 0.0003). Within sidestep style, they increased in unanticipated state relative to anticipated state. Later in Correction Phase, within both anticipation states peak value of H increased 41 and 75% in cut/stairs transitions relative to cuts (p = 0.010 and p < 0.0001). For cut/stairs transitions, peak value of H increased 45% in unanticipated state compared to anticipated state (p = 0.0001). Conclusions: These results underlined the detrimental effects of unanticipated state and task complexity on dynamic balance during walking transitions. These findings imply increased demand of neuromuscular system and functional deficits of individuals with neuromuscular disorders during these tasks. In addition, cutting style influenced frontal plane dynamic balance before transition and in response to unanticipated direction change. Collectively, these results may help identify impaired balance control of fall-prone individuals and inform interventions targeting specific destabilizing scenarios.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number100
JournalJournal of NeuroEngineering and Rehabilitation
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 18 2020


  • Biomechanics
  • Cognition
  • Dynamic balance
  • Gait
  • Walking transitions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rehabilitation
  • Health Informatics


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