Sensorimotor changes such as postural and gait instabilities can affect the functional performance of astronauts after gravitational transitions. When astronauts are trained before flight with supra-threshold noisy, stochastic vestibular stimulation (SVS), the central nervous system can be trained to reweight sensory information by using veridical information from other sensory inputs (such as vision and proprioception) for postural and gait control. This reweighting, in turn, can enhance functional performance in novel gravitational environments. However, the optimal maximum amplitude of stimulation has not yet been identified that can simulate the effect of deterioration in vestibular inputs for preflight training or for evaluating vestibular contribution in functional tests in general. Most studies have used arbitrary but fixed maximum current amplitudes from 3 to 5 mA in the mediolateral (ML) direction to disrupt balance function in both ML and anterior-posterior directions in healthy adults. The goal of this study was to determine the minimum SVS level that yields an equivalently degraded balance performance. Fourteen subjects stood on a compliant surface with their eyes closed and were instructed to maintain a stable upright stance. Measures of stability of the head, trunk, and whole body were quantified in the ML direction. Objective perceptual motion thresholds were estimated ahead of time by having subjects sit on a chair with their eyes closed and giving 1-Hz bipolar binaural sinusoidal electrical stimulation at various current amplitudes. Results from the balance task suggest that using stimulation amplitudes of 280% of motion-perceptual threshold (~2.2 mA on average) significantly degraded balance performance.

Listed In: Biomechanics, Neuroscience, Posturography


INTRODUCTION Running-related injuries are most often single-sided and are partially attributed to lower limb movement and loading asymmetries. For example, runners with tibial stress fractures demonstrate asymmetry in loading rate. Running is a dynamic athletic event in which runners often engage in both inclined and declined running with the goal of improving conditioning. Symmetry Angle (SA) is a commonly used, robust measure of determining symmetry. The purpose of this study was to compare peak vertical ground reaction force (VGRF) symmetry using the SA during uphill, level and downhill running on an instrumented treadmill. METHODS Eleven healthy adults volunteered to participate in this study and running at 2.7 m/s at grades of 0°, 5.74° incline and 5.74° decline were analyzed. SA was computed using the peak VGRF values from both the limbs. RESULTS AND DISCUSSION No statistically significant differences in SA were observed between the three running conditions. (p=0.61) The unexpected uniformity in vertical GRF across uphill, level, and downhill running is consistent with the absence of changes in the peak magnitudes of the GRF observed previously. This suggests that neither moderate uphill or downhill running result in increases in peak GRF that may be considered injurious. CONCLUSIONS This was the first study that looked at kinetic symmetry using peak GRF in healthy recreational runners during the three running conditions. This study suggested that uphill and downhill running does not contribute to potential differences in interlimb symmetry and could be considered as a safe alternative to level running on a treadmill.
Listed In: Biomechanics, Gait


While the popularity of triathlon is increasing, the underlying biomechanics of the various bicycling positions and saddle types are not yet understood. PURPOSE: To determine how bicycle rider position and saddle type (road vs. triathlon) affect the bicycle-rider interface forces (BRIFs) at a standardized power and cadence. METHODS: A stationary cycling ergometer was modified to include force transducers at the saddle, bottom bracket, and stem. Anatomical measurements were made in order to fine-tune rider fit on the ergometer. 9 subjects completed riding trials in all combinations of road position, road saddle, triathlon position, and triathlon saddle. Riding trials were 6 minutes, at a standardized power output of 2 Watts per kilogram (W/kg) and 90 Revolutions per Minute (RPM). RESULTS: Analysis was broken into three categories: Road Saddle, Road Position (RR) vs. Triathlon Saddle, Road Position (TR), Road Saddle, Triathlon Position (RT) vs. Triathlon Saddle, Triathlon Position (TT), and Road Saddle, Road Position vs. Triathlon Saddle, Triathlon Position. Surprisingly, there were no significant differences in saddle vertical forces between either body positions or saddle type. However, there were significant differences at the handlebar; 8.4% more body weight supported at the handlebar in the triathlon position compared to the road position while using a triathlon saddle. CONCLUSION: Across cycling positions, there is a significant change in saddle and stem vertical forces. However, within a cycling position, saddle type does not change the amount of vertical force seen at the saddle.
Listed In: Biomechanical Engineering, Biomechanics, Sports Science

Prolonged Cycling's Effect on Transition Run Mechanics in Triathletes

A period of incoordination and fatigue is commonly associated with the transition run in triathletes, in which running mechanics are thought to be altered. Few studies have examined the changes in ground reaction forces and vertical loading rate during the transition run. Our purpose was to assess the changes that occur in ground reaction forces during a fatigued transition run in triathletes. 13 recreational male triathletes (34 ± 4.2 years) performed an incremental cycling test and a cycle to run transition on separate testing sessions. A 15-camera Vicon motion capture system collecting at 200 Hz and an AMTI force instrumented treadmill collecting at 2000 Hz were used in conjunction with a modified Plug-In Gait marker to collect trajectory and analog data for pre and post-cycling running trials. Ground reaction forces and temporal spatial parameters were assessed during stance of all running trials using Visual 3D software. Peak vertical ground reaction force and step length decreased significantly from pre-cycling to immediate post-cycling measures (p=.003, p<.001), no difference existed for either variable for pre-cycling vs. 10min post-cycling. Instantaneous peak vertical loading rate (IVLR) and step rate increased significantly from pre-cycling to immediate post-cycling measures (p=.05, p<.001), no difference existed for stride rate for pre-cycling vs. 10min post-cycling. IVLR remained significantly increased at the 10 min post-cyling (p=.035). The study findings suggest that fatigue from prolonged cycling can negatively impact triathletes’ ability to attenuate ground reaction forces in subsequent running.
Listed In: Biomechanics, Gait, Sports Science

Differences In Core Stability Between Collegiate Football Players With And Without Shoulder Pain

The purpose of this study was to determine differences in core stability between collegiate football players with and without non-traumatic shoulder pain. 20 collegiate football players completed tests of trunk control and muscle capacity. Control was assessed via an unstable chair placed on a force plate. Static control was assessed by center of pressure movement during seated balance using 95% confidence ellipse area (CEA; mm2) and mean velocity (MVEL; mm/s). Dynamic control was assessed during a speed and accuracy target acquisition task. Directional control (DC; mm; COP path to target) and precision control (movement around target prior to acquisition (PC; CEA mm2)) were measured. Capacity was assessed by trunk flexor (FLEX; s) and extensor endurance (EXT; s) and double-leg lowering (DLL; °). MANOVA (Eta) and t-tests (Cohen’s d) assessed group differences (p < 0.05) Core stability was not significantly different between groups. Data presented as mean ± stdev (No Pain/Pain), p-value, effect size: Static control- CEA 183 ± 129/ 131 ± 85 and MVEL 5.7 ± 3.0/6.4 ± 2.6, p = 0.38, Eta =.33; Dynamic Control- DC 49± 9/46 ± 6, p = 0.49, d =.39 and PC 143 ± 72/93± 25, p = 0.051, d = 0.93; Capacity: FLEX 77 ± 38/99 ± 32, EXT 74 ± 22/69± 28, p = 0.22, Eta= .40 and DLLT 14 ± 10/15 ± 11, p = 0.92, d =.05. Our data do not provide evidence of diminished core stability in football players with shoulder pain.

Listed In: Biomechanics, Physical Therapy

Effect of low-pass filter cutoff frequencies on joint moments in walking

Calculating and interpreting joint moments using marker position and ground reaction force (GRF) data is a fundamental part of gait biomechanics research. Due to noise in marker positions, these data are low-pass filtered prior to performing inverse dynamics. Traditionally, kinematic data are filtered at low cutoff frequencies (~6 Hz) and kinetic data are filtered at high frequencies (~30-100 Hz). This technique can result in joint moment impact peaks, particularly during high-impact movements. Filtering marker and GRF data at the same cutoff frequency has been suggested to attenuate these impact artefacts. The effect of various filtering approaches on joint moments in walking is unknown. The purpose of this study was to compare the effect of low-pass filtering cutoff frequencies on joint moments during walking. We hypothesized that filtering would not affect peak joint moments during walking due to smaller violations of the rigid body assumption compared to high-impact movements. Kinetic and kinematic data were collected for twenty-four health adults walking at self-selected speed. Marker position and GRF were smoothed using a 4th-order dual-pass Butterworth filter with cutoff frequencies of 6/45 Hz, 6/6 Hz, 10/10 Hz, for markers and GRF, respectively. A one-way repeated measures ANOVA tested for the effect of filter frequency on peak hip and knee joint moments. Peak hip and knee moments were greater when filtered at 10/10 Hz compared to 6/45 Hz. Although there were differences between cutoff frequency conditions, the effect sizes were small, suggesting that the differences are not large enough to have a meaningful effect.
Listed In: Biomechanics

Test-retest Reliability of Jump Execution Variables using Mechanography: A Comparison of Jump Protocols

Mechanography during the vertical jump test allows for evaluation of force-time variables reflecting jump execution, which may enhance screening for functional deficits that reduce physical performance and determining mechanistic causes underlying performance changes. However, utility of jump mechanography for evaluation is limited by scant test-retest reliability data of force-time variables. Purpose: To examine test-retest reliability of jump execution variables assessed from mechanography using two different protocols. Methods: 32 women (mean ± SD: age = 20.8 ± 1.3 yr, height = 167.6 ± 6.3 cm, mass = 68.2 ± 12.7 kg) and 16 men (age = 22.1 ± 1.9 yr, height = 181.5 ± 5.0 cm, mass = 94.1 ± 24.6 kg) attended a familiarization session followed by two testing sessions, all one week apart, during which they performed the vertical jump test and had mechanography data recorded. Participants performed six squat jumps (SJ) per session, with squat depth self-selected for the first three jumps and controlled using a goniometer to 110º knee flexion for the remaining three jumps. Raw data were sampled at 1,000 Hz and filtered with a cutoff frequency of 90.9 Hz using Bertec Digital AcquireTM. Jump execution variables were calculated using a macro program in Microsoft Visual Basic. Eight force-time variables were assessed. Test-retest reliability was quantified as the systematic error (using %difference between jumps), random error (using coefficients of variation), and test-retest correlations (using intraclass correlation coefficients).Results: Jump execution variables demonstrated good reliability, evidenced by very small systematic errors (mean ±95%CI: –1.2 ±2.3%), small random errors (mean ±95%CI: 17.8 ±3.7%), and very strong test-retest correlations (range: 0.73-0.97). Differences in random errors between controlled and self-selected protocols were negligible (mean ±95%CI: 1.3 ±2.3%). Conclusion: Jump execution variables demonstrated good reliability, with no meaningful differences between the controlled and self-selected SJ depth protocols. To simplify testing, a self-selected SJ depth protocol can be used to assess force-time variables with negligible impact on measurement error

Listed In: Biomechanics

Comparison of Different Body Postures during Running on Peak Knee and Hip Mechanics

The purpose of the study was to determine whether increasing trunk flexion (TF) and whole body inclination (WBI) angles influences peak knee, hip, and trunk kinematics and kinetics during running. Nineteen participants ran over ground at a self-selected speed under three postures: self-selected normal (SSN), TF, and WBI. Analyses revealed significant differences between conditions for peak knee, hip, and trunk flexion angles and peak knee and hip extension moments. Both TF and WBI postures are effective strategies for reducing peak knee extension moments during running with more load distributed to the hips. This may reduce PFJ stress and therefore aid in knee injury prevention and management. Individual preference of either altered running posture should be utilized in a clinical setting.
Listed In: Biomechanics

Sensitivity to Marker Placement in the TSRHC Foot Model

Multi-segmented foot and ankle (FandA) models provide more information regarding intrinsic foot motion compared to rigid-body models due to additional markers on bony landmarks of the foot. Marker placement sensitivity is a concern, especially in patients with bony abnormalities, because kinematics vary with marker placement deviations. PURPOSE: Assess kinematic changes due to marker placement error using the TSRHC multi-segmented FandA model. METHODS: Our participant was an 18yo female lacking any prior orthopedic conditions. The Plug-in-Gait model was used with the TSRHC model. An experienced clinician executed all marker placements, systematically moving each marker approximately 2.5mm within two planes. Three dynamic trials were collected for each condition, and static trials were used to calculate exact distances markers moved. Six force plates (AMTI) were utilized to confirm a consistent walking pattern. Graphs analyzed included: 1)PIG–ankle dorsiflexion, foot rotation, foot progression angle, 2)TSRHC–hindfoot, forefoot, FF-tibia. For each condition, the peaks of affected kinematic graphs were compared to assess correlations. Intra-trial error was determined by the maximum difference across walking trials. CONCLUSION: The hindfoot was most sensitive to transverse plane marker placement errors. Markers on metatarsals periodically rose vertically when moved laterally due to foot curvature causing errors in the sagittal plane as well. The forefoot also had transverse plane errors when metatarsal markers were moved. This case study illustrates the importance of proper marker placement training when utilizing a multi-segmented foot model. A thorough understanding of a utilized model is imperative, including how sensitive the model is to marker placement.
Listed In: Biomechanics, Gait, Orthopedic Research

Nucleotomy Alters Internal Strain Distribution of the Human Lumbar Intervertebral Disc

Nucleotomy is a surgical procedure following herniation and also simulates the reduced nucleus pulpousus (NP) pressure that occurs with disc degeneration. Internal disc strains are an important factor in disc function, yet it is unclear how internal strains are affected by nucleotomy. Grade II L3-L4 human cadaveric discs (n=6) were analyzed intact and after a partial nucleotomy that removed 30-50% of the NP through a left posterolateral incision (incision) while the contralateral side remained intact (uninjured). Two cycles of stress-relaxation testing were performed for reference (50N) and loaded (0.70MPa) configurations. After each 8hour equilibration period, the reference and loaded discs were imaged separately in a 7T MRI scanner (0.3mm isotropic resolution). The reference and loaded images were registered to calculate internal strain within the annulus fibrosus (AF) lamellae and discs were averaged to create anatomical templates. Circumferential, radial, and axial strains for each disc were transformed to the average templates, effectively normalizing the strains. Five circumferential regions were defined within the mid-third of the templates. Nucleotomy altered disc strains on both the incision and uninjured sides from the intact state. Strain fields were inhomogeneous through the five regions. Mean circumferential strain was unaffected by nucleotomy on the uninjured side, but decreased with incision, showing hoop strains through the AF were disrupted. Mean compressive axial strains were higher after nucleotomy, effectively reducing AF stiffness, and mean radial strains were unaltered after partial nucleotomy. These findings are important to address etiology and progression of degeneration, and to develop and evaluate therapeutic interventions.
Listed In: Biomechanical Engineering, Biomechanics, Orthopedic Research