Quantifying stair gait stability and plantar pressure in an aging community, with modifications to insoles and lighting

Introduction: Stair gait is an activity performed daily. Inherently falls during stair gait continue to be a concern especially for older adults 65 years +. Recently falls have become the most common cause of injury-related deaths in individuals over the age of 75 y.o. Stair descent falls account for 75% of stair falls and also present a greater injury severity. Poor shoes or insoles and lighting condition can contribute to an increased risk of falls during stair locomotion. Stability can be measured using the COM-BOS ‘stability margin’ relationship. Center of pressure (COP), another stability measure,can be calculated from a multi-axis force-plate system. As well, plantar pressure is an important indicator of gait pattern efficiency. Aim: To identify aspects of stair gait that increase the risk of falls. By measuring the COM-BOS ‘stability margin’, the COP and plantar pressure patterns of individuals during stair gait, while modifying insoles and lighting. Methods: Young and older adults will ascend and descend a 4 level staircase, with two imbedded AMTI-force platforms in varying lighting condition (low, normal). Participants will be fitted with standardized footwear with Medi-logic insoles placed under varying hardnesses of insoles. An Optotrak motion capture system will record 12 IRED markers placed on the individual to determine the COM trajectory and BOS of location. Hypothesis: Partipants should demonstrate a greater lateral displacement in the single support phase during dim lighting as opposed to normal lighting. The stability of older adults will be compromised with alteration to the insoles (soft and hard).

Listed In: Biomechanics, Gait, Other

Effects of Compliant Flooring Systems and Resident Weight on Hand Forces When Pushing Floor-Based Lifts and Wheelchairs Among Long-Term Care Staff

Compliant flooring is a promising intervention for reducing fall-related injuries among long-term care residents but may increase the forces required for direct care staff to perform pushing tasks. We analyzed initial and sustained hand forces required for care staff to push a wheelchair (n=14) or two floor-based lifts (traditional manual and motor-driven) (n=14), loaded with average and ninetieth percentile resident weights, over four flooring systems. Compliant subflooring increased push forces compared to concrete subflooring, especially with vinyl overlay, but pushing over a compliant subfloor with vinyl overlay did not require more force than pushing over a concrete subfloor with carpet overlay. Compared to the traditional lift, the motor-driven lift substantially reduced push forces on all flooring systems. With the motor-driven lift only, resident weight did not influence push forces. These results provide new knowledge about the effects of compliant flooring and motor-driven lifts on push forces in long term care.
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Introduction and Objectives: It has previously been reported that deterioration in contractile strength and tendon stiffness in the elderly is associated with altered motor task execution and reduced performance while walking [1,2], and that resistance training improves muscle function, resulting in more effective and safer gait characteristics in the older population [3]. In particular, triceps surae (TS) muscle-tendon unit (MTU) properties seem to be an important determinant for walk-to-run transition speed [4], emphasizing the relevant role intrinsic MTU properties play in gait performance. The objective of this empirical study was to examine the hypothesis that maximal walking velocity is related to TS MTU mechanical and morphological properties and their enhanced capacities would improve gait velocity in the elderly. Methods: Thirty four older female adults (66±7 yrs.) took part in the study. Nineteen of them were recruited for the experimental group, who underwent a 14-week TS MTU physical exercise intervention which has been previously established to increase muscle strength and tendon stiffness [5]. The remaining 15 subjects formed the control group (no physical exercise intervention). The experimental group performed three times per week five sets of four repetitive (3·s loading, 3·s relaxation) isometric plantar flexion contractions in order to induce high cyclic strain magnitudes on the TS tendon and aponeurosis. Maximal walking velocity, defined as walking with a double support phase, was determined by using two force plates (60 x 40 cm, 1080 Hz; Kistler, Winterthur, CH) and a motion capture system (Vicon Motion Systems, Oxford, UK) with 12 infrared cameras operating at a frequency of 120 Hz. TS MTU properties were assessed using simultaneous dynamometry and ultrasonography (Esaote MyLab Five; Esaote Biomedica, Genoa, IT). Results: A significant correlation was found between the TS MTU mechanical and morphological properties and maximal gait velocity (0.40 < r < 0.64; P < 0.05; n = 34). The experimental group showed higher TS contractile strength, tendon stiffness, and higher gastrocnemius medialis muscle thickness post- compared to pre-intervention (P < 0.05). However, calculated maximal gait velocity did not differ between pre and post-intervention measurements (2.39 ± 0.41 vs. 2.44 ± 0.45 m·s-1). Control subjects showed no statistically significant differences in maximal gait velocity or TS MTU mechanical and morphological properties. Conclusion: This empirical study confirms previous forward simulation models [4] proposing that intrinsic TS MTU properties are significant determinants of gait performance. However, older adults may not be capable of fully utilizing improvements of the MTU capacities while walking at maximal velocities following a 14 week physical exercise intervention. Therefore, the benefits of a long term physical exercise intervention (1.5 years) will be discussed.
Listed In: Biomechanics, Gait, Other

Muscle force prediction of the lower limb compared to surface EMG at different walking speeds in individual healthy subjects.

BACKROUND: Recent developments in modelling have made it easier to use muscle force predictions to augment clinical gait analysis and enhance clinical decision making. OpenSim claims to provide a straight forward, standardised pipeline (SimTrack) to predict muscle forces implemented in routine processing. This project aims to test SimTrack’s potential in the context of clinical gait analysis by developing a standardised protocol which compares predicted muscle forces with surface EMG at a range of walking speeds. METHODS: 10 healthy participants walked at 3 different speeds (comfortable, ±20%). Kinematics, kinetics and surface EMG of the lower limb were captured. Joint angles and ground reaction forces serve as inputs to predict muscle forces using computed muscle control (CMC) within SimTrack. Predicted muscle forces were compared with EMG to validate the model outputs. RESULTS: Agreement between force prediction and EMG varies between muscles. Some muscles show a general agreement and similar variation with walking speed, others show large unexpected differences between CMC outputs and observed EMG. DISCUSSION: These results suggest that this protocol is running in general. For most walking speeds, CMC muscle forces can be predicted within a timeframe appropriate for clinical purposes. However using the default settings, the model predictions do not agree with EMG measurements. Furthermore, during pilot testing of quicker walking speeds (up to +40%) CMC crashed due the chosen musculoskeletal model being too weak. These findings suggest the need of either different generic parameters or subject specific parameters to obtain valid results. Work is continuing to identify these.
Listed In: Biomechanics, Gait, Other

The Effects of Knee Taping Techniques on Lower Extremity Kinematics During Running

Introduction: Running is a popular form of physical activity linked to various lower extremity injuries. A commonly used technique for injury prevention and rehabilitation is taping. There is considerable research investigating running biomechanics, however, there has been limited to no research examining the effects of gender, speed, and the type of tape used on two-dimensional lower extremity kinematics. Therefore, the purpose of this pilot study was to investigate the effects of gender, speed, and tape on two-dimensional lower extremity kinematics and stride characteristics during running. Method: Eight healthy runners participated (4 males, 4 females). Taping interventions (Leukotape, Kinesio Tape, no tape) and speeds (2.35 m/s, 3.35 m/s) were randomized and lower extremity stride kinematics were obtained using the Peak Motus System at initial contact, midstance, and toe off of running. Comparisons were made using descriptive statistics. Results: Females exhibited greater hip (FIC= 164.04+1.99°; MIC= 167.54+2.12°) and knee flexion (FIC= 167.73+0.93°; MIC= 170.42+1.65°; FPK= 142.83+1.28°; MPK= 146.35+1.21°), while males had greater ankle dorsiflexion (FIC= 88.60+1.00°; MIC= 84.14+1.08°) and plantarflexion (FTO= 51.90+1.01°; MTO= 55.99+0.825°). Females spent more time in support (FCT= 0.28+0.03s; MCT= 0.26+0.02s) while males spent more time in the air (FFT= 0.45+0.02s; MFT= 0.48+0.01s). Faster speed was associated with greater hip flexion and extension (SIC= 167.57+1.95°; FIC= 164.01+2.11°; STO= 197.14+1.23°; FTO= 201.28+0.74°), peak knee flexion (SPK= 145.39+1.82°; FPK= 143.79+2.39°), and less time during contact (SIC = 0.30+0.01s; FIC= 0.25+0.00s). Conclusion: Gender and speed seem to have effects on lower extremity stride kinematics, whereas type of tape does not.
Listed In: Biomechanics, Gait, Other

One Hundred Data-Driven Haptic Texture Models and Open-Source Methods for Rendering on 3D Objects

This work introduces the Penn Haptic Texture Toolkit (HaTT), a publicly available repository of haptic texture models for use by the research community. HaTT includes 100 haptic texture and friction models, the recorded data from which the models were made, images of the textures, and the code and methods necessary to render these textures using an impedance-type haptic interface such as a SensAble Phantom Omni. This work reviews our previously developed methods for modeling haptic virtual textures, describes our technique for modeling Coulomb friction between a tooltip and a surface, discusses the adaptation of our rendering methods for display using an impedance-type haptic device, and provides an overview of the information included in the toolkit. Each texture and friction model was based on a ten-second recording of the force, speed, and high-frequency acceleration experienced by a handheld tool moved by an experimenter against the surface in a natural manner. We modeled each texture’s recorded acceleration signal as a piecewise autoregressive (AR) process and stored the individual AR models in a Delaunay triangulation as a function of the force and speed used when recording the data. Measurements of the user’s instantaneous normal force and tangential speed are used to synthesize texture vibrations in real time. These vibrations are transformed into a texture force vector that is added to the friction and normal force vectors for display to the user.
Listed In: Mechanical Engineering, Other


Eccentric training may affect the longitudinal adaptation of the muscle. Usually the muscle fiber lengthening during eccentric training is measured by the joint kinematics. Due to tendon compliance, this method offers insufficient information about the muscle fiber behavior. The present study investigated the muscle fiber behavior of the Vastus Lateralis muscle (VL) during eccentric knee contractions in humans by measuring the changes of fascicle length in vivo with ultrasonography, at force levels of 65% and 95% of the maximum voluntary isometric contraction force (MVC). Seven young adults were tested by a Biodex. They performed eccentric knee contractions with one leg at 65% and 95% of their MVC (knee angle 25°-100°, angular velocity 90°/s). Potential joint axis deviations were recorded using a Vicon camera system. Exerted knee moments were captured synchronously with the Vicon system at 1000Hz. Fascicle length of the VL muscle visualized by a 10cm Ultrasound prob. The means and standard deviations of fascicle elongation at 65% and 95% of the MVC were 42.71±8.54mm and 39.11±10.64mm respectively, with no statistically significant difference between both conditions. All subjects showed a plateau or slide decrease in fascicle length at the beginning of the movement. This slight decrease in fascicle length, which occurs despite a lengthening of the VL muscle-tendon unite, can be explained by the tendon compliance. The similar fascicle elongation between the two conditions (65% vs. 95% MVC) reveals that the amplitude of the force level during eccentric knee extension contractions does not affect the lengthening of the fascicle.

Listed In: Biomechanics, Other

Direct Measurement of Sediment Response to Waves with Smart Sediment Grains

A comprehensive characterization of small-scale fluid-sediment interactions will improve understanding of large-scale ocean engineering phenomena, resulting in more accurate wave forecasting and improved ocean circulation models. The critical shear stress is typically used to determine the initiation of sediment motion in coastal applications. However, this shear stress criterion was primarily developed for steady flows and has been inconclusive in some wave environments where sediment motion may be induced by horizontal pressure gradients. Evidence suggests that the incipient motion formulation should account for the combined effects of the horizontal pressure gradients and bed shear stresses. Other researchers have made one-dimensional and two-dimensional measurements of near-bed velocities. However, previously available technologies could not resolve the three-dimensional velocities at the bed or directly measure sediment motion. Accurate investigation of the hydrodynamic forces that initiate coastal sediment transport requires high resolution measurements at the fluid-sediment interface. We have made previously unavailable high spatial and temporal resolution laboratory measurements at the sediment bed with state-of-the-art instruments. Additionally, we have performed one of the first direct measurements of sediment motion in response to waves with newly-developed electronic grains. The MEMs sensors are 2.5 x 1.5 x 1.4 cm and measure three-dimensional accelerations, store the data onboard, and transmit them wirelessly after retrieval. The Smart Sediment Grains (SSGs) were developed by embedding MEMs sensors in gravel-sized Delrin plastic spheres. These spheres allow uninhibited movement in any direction, similar to a smooth sand grain. The SSGs are the first freely moving electronic grains that measure sediment dynamics which previous technologies could not, giving insight into the underlying wave forces driving sediment transport. The SSGs enhance our ability to measure the motion, transport, and settling of sediments in the nearshore by capturing translation and rotation of the sediment. This will improve our predictive capabilities of sediment transport phenomena such as beach erosion and seabed evolution in response to wave forces; as well as improve parameterizations of the bottom friction for ocean circulation and wave energy dissipation models. The SSGs have been successfully deployed in small and field-scale wave flumes to measure the response of coarse gravel sediments to wave forcing. High resolution profiling Acoustic Doppler Velocimeters and a Particle Image Velocimetry system, comprising a laser and four high speed cameras, measured the three-dimensional fluid velocities at the bed. These measurements provide resolution high enough to fully examine the small-scale fluid forces exerted on each individual sediment grain. The SSGs accurately captured the sediment response to the waves at the onset of sediment transport. Additionally, broader incipient motion experiments were conducted with a variety of sediment grain diameters and densities for comparison. The results suggest evidence of pressure gradient influenced incipient motion; in contrast with the more commonly used threshold for sediment motion based on the bed shear stress. Calculated values of the Sleath parameter, used to quantify the effects of the pressure gradients, were comparable with field observations of pressure gradient induced sediment transport. The data also suggest that vortex shedding could be a factor in triggering sediment transport. We have directly measured incipient motion in waves by resolving the near-bed fluid velocities and collecting direct measurements of sediment motion with state-of-the-art instruments. The data are being used to validate theoretical and numerical models of the wave bottom boundary layer and bottom friction estimates. These results will be synthesized to propose a comprehensive incipient motion criterion comprising the effects of the shear stress and the pressure gradients, also taking into account a variety of flow and sediment characteristics. The current configuration of the SSGs helps to identify the characteristics of incipient motion and determine orientation. These mobile nodes make a significant step towards resolving the Lagrangian dynamics of individual coarse gravel-sized particles within the mobile bed layer in the nearshore. On a larger scale, they will reduce the effects of beach erosion by improving beach nourishment design. With technological advancements, these SSGs can be minimized and made field-deployable with enclosures configured to other applications to provide transformative measurements in geotechnical engineering, hydrology, oceanography and human health monitoring.
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Load Rating and Evaluation of Railroad Bridges Based on Non-Destructive Testing and Finite Element Modeling

The Federal Rail Association (FRA) mandated an increase in freight railcar weight limits from 1170 kN (263,000 lb) to 1272 kN (286,000 lb). However, most of the railway bridges were built prior to World War II and are not designed to handle this increased railcar weight. Thus, there is a need for accurate and efficient methods to evaluate and load rate existing bridges that will reveal their actual capacities. In this study, the research approach adopted is aimed at providing an efficient method to load rate railway bridges. Three load rating methods were utilized and compared: (1) traditional method based on American Railway Engineering and Maintenance-of-Way Association (AREMA) specifications, (2) refined traditional method using data from field tests, and (3) load rating using testing data and finite element (FE) modeling. Various types of bridges were field tested and evaluated. Results from a typical railway bridge will be used to demonstrate and compare each one of the three load rating methods. For this bridge, non-destructive testing was performed. The collected responses were used to improve the traditional method and calibrate a 3-D FE model. The rating results indicated that method (1) can be relatively conservative and does not reflect the actual behavior of the structure while method (3) provided accurate results it was more tedious. It is suggested that the refined traditional method (2) be used since it provided similar accurate rating results without developing a detailed FE model.
Listed In: Mechanical Engineering, Other