Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Programmable multi-direction perturbations reveal balance pathologies

A newly developed posture perturbation device for balance assessment allows for the in-depth analysis of human movements and the investigation of related pathologies, such as Parkinson's disease and ataxia. Unexpected perturbations coming from support platform movement realise all key postural coordination modes and control strategies and highlight the pathological features of the balance.
Programmable multi-direction perturbations reveal balance pathologies
The evaluation and treatment of many balance disorders has been greatly improved with the introduction of new, more advanced devices. Hence, static posturography devices related to the quiet-condition body sway recordings have evolved into dynamic posturography systems. Such systems allow for the analysis of postural adjustments to prevent falling as induced by unexpected perturbations.

According to their approach, contemporary dynamic posturography testing devices may use a movable platform in a walkway to provoke unexpected gait perturbations. Other systems study the influence of perturbation frequency and motion amplitude on postural coordination practices. Moreover, in certain devices, postural responses specify perturbation from displacement waveform features underlying the translating board.

For instance, a subject stands quietly on a platform and is asked to open or close their eyes for very short periods of time. While the platform and/or the surrounding booth may or may not move, the subject's body will automatically respond to keep balance. With the aid of the device these movements are recorded, providing valuable information about the pathology when reviewed by a physician.

The novel mobile platform allows controlled, multidirectional movements that may come in many combinations, either sudden or slow, both impulsive and harmonic. A modular, user-friendly, software-interface is also included to describe the velocity, amplitude and shape parameters of perturbations. Offering a wide range of these parameters, a better exploration and characterisation of the factors that affect both balance adjustments and coordination strategy pathologies are achieved.

Moreover, a protocol of series of various perturbations may be established where each one is described by various related parameters. These involve the number of axes, the engine dynamic (either pulse, or harmonic), the amplitude, the frequency or the velocity and the duration of movement. In addition, through its option for storing a list of used protocols, the system may contribute to the standardisation of diagnosis or rehabilitation procedures among neurology and physiatrist laboratories.
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