Postural stability has traditionally been examined through spatial measures of the center of mass (CoM) or center of pressure (CoP), where larger amounts of CoM or CoP movements are considered signs of postural instability. However, for stabilization, the postural control system may utilize additional information about the CoM or CoP such as velocity, acceleration, and the temporal margin to a stability boundary. Postural time-to-contact (TtC) is a variable that can take into account this additional information about the CoM or CoP. Postural TtC is the time it would take the CoM or CoP, given its instantaneous trajectory, to contact a stability boundary. This is essentially the time the system has to reverse any perturbation before stance is threatened. Although this measure shows promise in assessing postural stability, the TtC values derived between studies are highly ambiguous due to major differences in how they are calculated. In this study, various methodologies used to assess postural TtC were compared during quiet stance and induced-sway conditions. The effects of the different methodologies on TtC values will be assessed, and issues regarding the interpretation of TtC data will also be discussed.
Jeffrey M. Haddad, Jeff L. Gagnon, Christopher J. Hasson, Richard E.A. Van Emmerik and Joseph Hamill
Katherine L. Hsieh, Yaejin Moon, Vignesh Ramkrishnan, Rama Ratnam and Jacob J. Sosnoff
measure postural stability, such as the functional reach task, 6 trunk sway, 7 and center of pressure (COP) measures (ie, velocity, area). 8 One method of measuring postural stability is determining virtual time to contact (VTC). VTC provides an estimate of how long it would take an individual to lose
Angela DiDomenico, Raymond W. McGorry and Jacob J. Banks
Time-to-contact (TtC) is an alternative measure of postural stability to center of pressure (CoP) velocity. TtC is based on both spatial and temporal aspects of CoP displacement, definition of the boundary shape, and quantity of minima analyzed. Three boundary shapes and three minima selection methods were used to compute TtC during bipedal quiet standing. The results suggest that there is a strong correlation between TtC values obtained using each of the calculation methods (r ≥.73) and mean CoP velocity (r ≥ −.70). TtC was significantly affected by boundary shape and minima selection method. This limits the ability to compare absolute values, but relative levels of stability computed using TtC can be compared due to strong correlations. Given the task parameters studied, mean CoP velocity may even be adequate to assess levels of stability. Future studies are needed to examine the generalizability of these findings for different groups and task parameters.
Jebb G. Remelius and Richard E.A. van Emmerik
This study investigated timing and coordination during the swing phase of swing leg, body center of mass (CoM) and head during walking people with multiple sclerosis (MS; n = 19) and controls (n = 19). The MS group showed differences in swing phase timing at all speeds. At imposed but not preferred speeds, the MS group had less time to prepare for entry into the unstable equilibrium, as the CoM entered this phase of swing earlier. Time-to-contact coupling, quantifying the coordination between the CoM and the swing foot, was not different between groups. The projection of head motion on the ground occurred earlier after toeoff and was positioned closer to the body in the MS group, illustrating increased reliance on visual exproprioception in which vision of the body in relation to the surface of support is established. Finally, prospective control, linking head movements to the swing foot time-to-contact and next step landing area, was impaired in the MS group at higher gait speeds.
Pedro Paulo Deprá, Avelino Amado and Richard E.A. van Emmerik
ability to maintain quiet upright stance and showed that a measure of stability that assesses the time to the boundary of the base of support formed by the feet (time-to-contact [TtC] variable) is potentially more sensitive. The TtC is the time it would take the center of mass or CoP to contact a
Erwin E.H. van Wegen, Richard E.A. van Emmerik, Robert C. Wagenaar and Terry Ellis
Postural instability is a major problem in patients with Parkinson's disease (PD). We examined balance control in PD by using center of pressure (CP) variability and time-to-contact to investigate boundary relevant postural control behavior under quiet stance leaning conditions. Postural orientation was manipulated by having patients (n = 10) and healthy older controls (n = 7)lean Forward and backward with varying degrees of lean on a force platform. The subjects were instructed to lean forward or backward (either halfway or as far as possible) without bending their hips or lifting their heels or toes off the ground. Time-to-contact of the CP with the geometric stability boundary defined by the feet as well as CP position and variability were analyzed. Mediolateral CP variability was increased in the patients with PD. Medio-lateral average time-to-contact was decreased in the patients but not so in the antcrior-posterior direction. In contrast to the CP variability, the medio-lateral variability of time-lo-contact was lower in the patients. Patients as well as healthy older controls responded to lean manipulations with an increase in CP variability. Boundary relevant CP measures thus show clear changes in control strategies and confirm the role of lateral instability in PD.
Anne-Marie Brouwer, Eli Brenner and Jeroen B.J. Smeets
Before an aspect of a movement that is predicted by a control theory can be considered as evidence for that theory, it should be clear that this aspect is not the result of some other property of the movement. We investigate whether this condition is met in studies that claim to provide evidence for the tau-coupling theory. This theory proposes that moving targets are intercepted at a specified goal zone by maintaining a constant ratio between the tau (time to closure) of the gap between the hand and the goal zone and the tau of the gap between the hand and the moving target. In line with the theory, previous research has found a linear relationship between these two decreasing taus during the last part of such a movement. To investigate whether this linear relationship was a side-effect of smooth successful movements, we modeled smooth ballistic hand movements that were independent of the target's movement but led to successful interception. We found that the resulting taus of decreasing gaps were also related linearly. We conclude that this relationship cannot be considered as evidence for the tau-coupling theory.
Jeffrey M. Haddad, Laura J. Claxton, Dawn K. Melzer, Joseph Hamill and Richard E. A. van Emmerik
Posture becomes integrated with other goal-directed behaviors early in infancy and continues to develop into the second decade of life. However, the developmental time course over which posture is stabilized relative to the base of support during a dynamic manual precision task has not been examined. Postural-manual integration was assessed in 7-year-olds, 10-year-olds, and adults using a postural-manual task in which task precision (target fitting size) and postural difficulty (reaching distance to a target) were manipulated. The main dependent variable was postural time-to-contact (TtC). Results indicated systematic age effects in which TtC was shortest in the 7-year-olds, increased in the 10-year-olds, and was longest in the adults. Across all age levels, TtC was longer when performing a precision ft compared with a nonprecision ft and when fitting at a near target compared with fitting at a far target. Finally, TtC increased over the course of the manual fitting task, suggesting that posture became increasingly stable as the hand approached the opening. The ability to modulate postural TtC during the course of the fitting trial was most pronounced in adults as compared with both groups of children. These results suggest that even by 10-years of age, children are not yet able to fully integrate postural movements with goal directed manual tasks at adult-like levels.
Jan M. Hondzinski and Warren G. Darling
Experiments were designed to examine the visual contributions to performance of back aerial double somersaults by collegiate acrobats. Somersaults were performed on a trampoline under three visual conditions: (a) NORMAL acuity; (b) REDUCED acuity (subjects wore special contacts that blocked light reflected onto the central retina); and (c) NO VISION. Videotaped skill performances were rated by two NCAA judges and digitized for kinematic analyses. Subjects' performance scores were similar in NORMAL and REDUCED conditions and lowest in the NO VISION condition. Control of body movement, indicated by time-to-contact, was most variable in the NO VISION condition. Profiles of angular head and neck velocity revealed that when subjects could see, they slowed their heads prior to touchdown in time to process optical flow information and prepare for landing. There was not always enough time to process vision associated with object identification and prepare for touchdown. It was concluded that collegiate acrobats do not need to identify objects for their best back aerial double somersault performance.
Molly B. Johnson and Richard E.A. Van Emmerik
Sensory feedback from the vestibular system and neck muscle stretch receptors is critical for the regulation of postural control. The postural relationship of the head to the trunk is a major factor determining the integration of sensory feedback and can be interfered with by varying head orientation. This study assessed how 60-s of standing with the head neutral, flexed, or extended impacted postural stability during upright stance and during forward lean in 13 healthy participants (26 ±5 years old). During both quiet upright stance and maximal forward lean, head extension increased postural center of pressure (COP) velocity and decreased the COP time-to-contact the anterior stability boundary compared with the head neutral condition. Head flexion did not differ from head neutral for either of the stance conditions. This study demonstrates that interfering with the head-trunk relationship by adopting extended, but not flexed, head orientations interferes with postural control that may impact postural stability during both quiet upright stance and maximal forward lean conditions.