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The purpose of this study was to quantify the magnitude and time course of dynamic balance control adaptations to prolonged step-by-step frontal plane forces applied to the trunk during walking. Healthy young participants (n = 10, 5 female) walked on an instrumented split-belt treadmill while an external cable-driven device applied frontal plane forces to the trunk. Two types of forces were applied: 1) forces which accentuated COM movement in the frontal plane (destabilizing) and 2) forces which resisted COM movement in the frontal plane (stabilizing). We quantified dynamic balance control using frontal plane measures of (1) the extent of center of mass (COM) movement over a gait cycle (COM sway), (2) the magnitude of base of support (step width), and (3) cadence. During destabilizing force conditions, COM sway, step width, and cadence increased. In response to stabilizing force conditions, COM sway decreased. In addition, during destabilizing balance conditions participants made quicker adaptations to their step width compared to the time to adapt to stabilizing forces. Taken together, these results provide important insight into differences in dynamic balance control strategies in response to stabilizing and destabilizing force fields.


Published version. PLOS One, Vol. 13, No. 9 (September 2018). DOI. © 2018 Walker et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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