Bilateral temporal control determines mediolateral margins of stability in symmetric and asymmetric human walking

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Human bipedal gait requires active control of mediolateral dynamic balance to stay upright. The margin of stability is considered a measure of dynamic balance, and larger margins are by many authors assumed to reflect better balance control. The inverted pendulum model of gait indicates that changes in the mediolateral margin of stability are related to changes in bilateral single support times. We propose updated equations for the mediolateral margin of stability in temporally symmetric and asymmetric gait, which now include the single support times of both legs. Based on these equations, we study the relation between bilateral single support times and the mediolateral margin of stability in symmetric, asymmetric, and adaptive human gait. In all conditions, the mediolateral margin of stability during walking followed predictably from bilateral single support times, whereas foot placement co-varied less with the mediolateral margin of stability. Overall, these results demonstrate that the bilateral temporal regulation of gait profoundly affects the mediolateral margin of stability. By exploiting the passive dynamics of bipedal gait, bilateral temporal control may be an efficient mechanism to safeguard dynamic stability during walking, and keep an inherently unstable moving human body upright.

Original languageEnglish
Article number12494
Number of pages10
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number12494
Publication statusPublished - 29-Aug-2019


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