Skip to Main Content
A hydraulically actuated platform with 4-degrees of freedom (4-DOF) was designed to be able to apply velocity- or acceleration-controlled floor surface perturbations to freely walking human subjects. The apparatus was required to provide velocity-controlled translational perturbations over the floor surface, rotational perturbations about the ankle joint, and acceleration-controlled vertical translational perturbations. The apparatus was physically constructed, and tested by both measurements of dynamics and repeatability. Crossover of movement from one DOF to another was shown to be less than 1 mm or 0.5deg for all desired perturbations. Repeated perturbations were nearly identical with a standard deviation of less than 0.2 mm over translational axes. The application of the platform to human gait research was demonstrated with a protocol of midstance phase perturbations (n = 8). For this, the platform controller was programmed to randomly select one out of three conditions: 1) no movement (control); 2) upward perturbation of 0.8 g, 50 mm, 300 ms after heel contact; 3) downward perturbation of 0.8 g, 50 mm, 300 ms after heel contact. In total, 90 trials (3 conditions times 30 repetitions) were recorded for each subject. By singling out the SOL EMG and normalizing and averaging over the subject population, it was shown that the upward and downward perturbations elicited at least two distinctive stereotypical reflex responses in the ankle extensors, opposite in sign. All subjects reported comfort with the apparatus and nobody fell.
Date of Publication: Sept. 2007