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Journal of Visualized Experiments




Journal of Visualized Experiments

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Assessment of reactive balance traditionally imposes some type of perturbation to upright stance or gait followed by measurement of the resultant corrective behavior. These measures include muscle responses, limb movements, ground reaction forces, and even direct neurophysiological measures such as electroencephalography. Using this approach, researchers and clinicians can infer some basic principles regarding how the nervous system controls balance to avoid a fall. One limitation with the way in which these assessments are currently used is that they heavily emphasize reflexive actions without any need to revise automatic postural reactions. Such an exclusive focus on these highly stereotypical reactions would fail to adequately address how we can modify these reactions should the need arise (e.g., avoiding an obstacle with a recovery step). This would appear to be a glaring omission when one considers the enormous complexity of the environments we face daily. Overall, the status quo when evaluating the neural control of balance fails to truly expose how higher brain resources contribute to preventing falls in complex settings. The present protocol offers a way to require suppression of automatic, but inappropriate corrective balance reactions, and force a selection among alternative action choices to successfully recover balance following postural perturbation.

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