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Todd L. Allinger and Robert W. Motl

This study used a vertical jump model to simulate the push-off phase for a skater using klap speed skates and evaluated die effects of pivot location and shoe base flexion on energy production. Boards of different lengths and one board with a hinge under the metatarsal heads were attached to the running shoes of volunteers. Six skaters performed 3 maximal effort vertical jumps across 5 different base conditions: running shoe, board that hinged under metatarsal heads, and rigid boards that pivoted with the ground al -25 mm (typical pivot location for klapskales), 0 mm, and +25 mm from the toes. There were no significant differences in total energy at take-off among the 3 rigid base conditions, but there were differences in potential and kinetic energy production. The total and kinetic energy produced at take-off was 9% greater in the hinged base condition than the corresponding rigid base condition. If differences in energy measures from the vertical jump reflect those for skating, a hinged boot base could increase skating speeds by about 3% over the current klap-skales, which have a rigid boot base.

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Adriana M. Degani, Alessander Danna-Dos-Santos and Mark L. Latash

We tested the hypothesis that a sequence of mechanical events occurs preceding a step that scales in time and magnitude as a whole in a task-specific manner, and is a reflection of a “motor program.” Young subjects made a step under three speed instructions and four tasks: stepping straight ahead, down a stair, up a stair, and over an obstacle. Larger center-of-pressure (COP) and force adjustments in the anteriorposterior direction and smaller COP and force adjustments in the mediolateral direction were seen during stepping forward and down a stair, as compared with the tasks of stepping up a stair and over an obstacle. These differences were accentuated during stepping under the simple reaction time instruction. These results speak against the hypothesis of a single motor program that would underlie postural preparation to stepping. They are more compatible with the reference configuration hypothesis of whole-body actions.

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Luis Mochizuki, Marcos Duarte, Alberto Carlos Amadio, Vladimir M. Zatsiorsky and Mark L. Latash

We investigated changes in postural sway and its fractions associated with manipulations of the dimensions of the support area. Nine healthy adults stood as quietly as possible, with their eyes open, on a force plate as well as on 5 boards with reduced support area. The center of pressure (COP) trajectory was computed and decomposed into rambling (Rm) and trembling (Tr) trajectories. Sway components were quantified using RMS (root mean square) value, average velocity, and sway area. During standing on the force plate, the RMS was larger for the anterior-posterior (AP) sway components than for the mediolateral (ML) components. During standing on boards with reduced support area, sway increased in both directions. The increase was more pronounced when standing on boards with a smaller support area. Changes in the larger dimension of the support area also affected sway, but not as much as changes in the smaller dimension. ML instability had larger effects on indices of sway compared to AP instability. The average velocity of Rm was larger while the average velocity of Tr was smaller in the AP direction vs. the ML direction. The findings can be interpreted within the hypothesis of an active search function of postural sway. During standing on boards with reduced support area, increased sway may by itself lead to loss of balance. The findings also corroborate the hypothesis of Duarte and Zatsiorsky that Rm and Tr reveal different postural control mechanisms.

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Veena Iyengar, Marcio J. Santos and Alexander S. Aruin

We investigated whether slower velocity of arm movement affects grip-force generation in conditions with the finger touch provided to the wrist of the target arm. Nine subjects performed the task of lifting and transporting an object at slow, intermediate, and fast velocities with a light finger touch from the contralateral arm and without it. There was an effect of velocity of arm movement on grip-force generation in both conditions. However, when the no touch and touch trials performed with similar velocity were matched, the effect of touch on grip-force reduction was statistically significant (p < .001). The observed decrease in grip force could not be explained by slower movement execution in the touch conditions and underlines the importance of using a contralateral touch in the performance of activities of daily living. It also points to a possibility of the development of therapeutic advances for the enhancement of grip-force control in patients with neurological impairments.

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Simon R. Goodman, Mark L. Latash, Sheng Li and Vladimir M. Zatsiorsky

This study involved an optimization, numerical analysis of a network for two-hand multi-finger force production, analogous in its structure to the double-representation mirror image (DoReMi) network suggested earlier based on neurophysiological data on cortical finger representations. The network accounts for phenomena of enslaving (unintended finger force production), force deficit (smaller force produced by a finger in multi-finger tasks as compared to its single-finger task), and bilateral deficit (smaller forces produced in two-hand tasks as compared to one-hand tasks). Matrices of connection weights were computed, and the results of optimization were compared to the experimental data on finger forces during one- and two-hand maximal force production (MVC) tasks. The network was able to reproduce the experimental data in two-hand experiments with high accuracy (average error was 1.2 N); it was also able to reproduce findings in one-hand multi-finger MVC tasks, which were not used during the optimization procedure, although with a somewhat higher error (2.8 N). Our analysis supports the feasibility of the DoReMi network. It suggests that within-a-hand force deficit and bilateral force deficit are phenomena of different origins whose effects add up. Is also supports a hypothesis that force deficit and enslaving have different neural origins.

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Halla B. Olafsdottir, Sun Wook Kim, Vladimir M. Zatsiorsky and Mark L. Latash

We tested the ability of healthy elderly persons to use anticipatory synergy adjustments (ASAs) prior to a self-triggered perturbation of one of the fingers during a multifinger force production task. An index of a force-stabilizing synergy was computed reflecting covariation of commands to fingers. The subjects produced constant force by pressing with the four fingers of the dominant hand on force sensors against constant upwardly directed forces. The middle finger could be unloaded either by the subject pressing the trigger or unexpectedly by the experimenter. In the former condition, the synergy index showed a drop (interpreted as ASA) prior to the time of unloading. This drop started later and was smaller in magnitude as compared with ASAs reported in an earlier study of younger subjects. At the new steady state, a new sharing pattern of the force was reached. We conclude that aging is associated with a preserved ability to explore the flexibility of the mechanically redundant multifinger system but a decreased ability to use feed-forward adjustments to self-triggered perturbations. These changes may contribute to the documented drop in manual dexterity with age.

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Marcin Baranowski, Jan Górski, Barbara Klapcinska, Zbigniew Waskiewicz and Ewa Sadowska-Krepa

We have previously shown that acute exercise increases the level of sphingosine-1-phosphate (S1P) in plasma and ceramide in erythrocytes of untrained subjects. The aim of the current study was to examine the effect of ultramarathon run on the plasma and erythrocyte levels of the following bioactive sphingolipids: S1P, sphinganine-1-phosphate (SA1P), sphingosine, sphinganine, and ceramide. Blood samples were collected from seven male amateur runners participating in a 48-hr ultramarathon race before the run, after 24 and 48 hr of running, and following 24 and 48 hr of recovery. The sphingolipids were quantified by means of HPLC. Sustained running for 48 hr resulted in a progressive decline in plasma S1P to a level significantly lower than at prerace, and then remained stable over the next 48 hr of recovery. In erythrocytes, S1P content was stable until 24 hr of recovery, then rose abruptly to reach peak values after 48 hr of recovery. The plasma level of SA1P decreased progressively during the competition and remained unchanged over the recovery. In erythrocytes, the level of SA1P increased after 24 hr running and normalized thereafter. The level of ceramide, both in plasma and erythrocytes, was not significantly affected by the ultraendurance run. We speculate that reduction in plasma level of S1P during and after the run reduces its biological actions and might be responsible for some negative side-effects of the ultraendurance effort.

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Alexander S. Aruin

A number of factors are likely to play a major role in the process of generation of anticipatory postural adjustments (APAs). Among them are the magnitude and direction of an expected perturbation, properties of a voluntary action associated with the perturbation, and features of the postural task such as a body's configuration prior to the action. The aim of this study was to analyze the effect of body configuration on APAs. Experiments were performed on 8 healthy subjects performing fast bilateral shoulder extension movements while standing. Body configuration was modified by instructions to the subjects to stand vertically or with a forward upper body bend varying from 15 to 60°. The electrical activity of postural muscles and displacements of the center of pressure were recorded. Results indicated that APAs were modified with changes in the angular position of the upper body. Decreased anticipatory activation was seen in rectus abdominis and rectus femoris, while increased anticipatory inhibition was observed in erecteor spinae and biceps femoris across conditions with forward bend. As a result, the total anticipatory activity of muscles in a muscle pair in series with a forward bend showed only slight modulation as compared to vertical posture. These results suggest that the CNS uses reorganization of the anticipatory activity of postural muscles by compensating for the changes in APAs of individual muscles in a muscle pair in such a way that the overall anticipatory activity of the muscle pair stays unchanged. Such compensation in counteracting the expected mechanical effects of the perturbation is used to accommodate both changes in the length of postural muscles and diminished stability of the body due to forward bend.

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Jinsung Wang and George E. Stelmach

Smeets and Brenner propose a model that attempts to account for the action patterns involved in prehensile behaviors. However, the model does not provide a full account of the available data on temporal and spatial relationships between the transport and grasp components. Predictions from the model in its current form appear to correspond only to experimental results in a very general way.

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Anthony J. Lisi, Conor W. O’Neill, Derek P. Lindsey, Robert Cooperstein, Elaine Cooperstein and James F. Zucherman

This paper presents the first reported measurements of lumbar intervertebral disc pressure in vivo during spinal manipulation. A pressure transducer was inserted into the nucleus pulposus of one normal-appearing lumbar disc in an asymptomatic adult volunteer. Pressures were recorded during several body positions and maneuvers, then during spinal manipulation, and lastly during a repetition of the preintervention body positions. Baseline pressures in the prone and side-lying positions measured 110 kPa and 150 kPa, respectively. During the manipulation, pressure rose to a peak of 890 kPa over 250 ms. Immediately following, pressures in the prone and side-lying positions measured 150 kPa and 165 kPa, respectively. These data do not support the hypotheses that manipulation can reduce a herniation by decreasing intradiscal pressure, or cause a herniation by raising pressure to failure levels. Further work may lead to a better understanding of this treatment method.