The purpose of this study is to examine the effects of concussion on gait stability when either a cognitive or motor perturbation is imposed. The hope for this investigation is to identify biomechanical, cognitive, and other measurements which can assist clinicians in their ability to determine whether an individual is ready to return to everyday or sport activities following concussion.

The primary questions which are being investigated currently include:
What is the cost of imposing a secondary task while walking following concussion?
How does concussion affect different age groups?  Are recovery patterns similar between adolescent and adult brains?
What can computerized cognitive tests tell us about an individual's motor performance and prevention of recurrent injury?

Attention and Gait

The main purpose of the study is to investigate the role of visuospatial attention during
walking. We use obstacle avoidance as a model to examine how humans allocate and use
visual information from the environment while walking, and how the body interacts with
the object while planning and executing an obstacle crossing. We invent a visuospatial
attention task that provides access to examine how visuospatial attention interacts with
obstacle crossing during walking. In particular, by manipulating where one is paying
attention in space, we are able to probe how attention and the stepping response interact.
Furthermore, we apply transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) in several brain sites
to investigate the cortical control driven by visual attention during locomotion.



Falls in the elderly population remains a serious issue, as it has been associated with reduced mobility, increased psychological fear of future falls, high medical costs and even death.  With the number of geriatrics in the United States increasing, an accurate assessment of fall risk is needed in order to reduce fatal injuries and medical costs.

The main goal of this project is to develop models which can be used to suitably grade a person’s risk of falling.  This will be achieved through the following:
1)  Utilize a combination of postural alignment and non-linear stability measures to establish a quantitative assessment of fall risk.  Postural control will be determined based on the position and velocity of the center of mass in relation to the base of support during gait.  System stability will be calculated based on how adults respond to small perturbations from step n to step n+1 throughout gait.
2)  Develop an artificial neural network (ANN) to determine the fall risk of elderly individuals based on commonly used clinical measures such as the Berg Balance Score, Timed Up and Go test, as well as fall history and any other medical impairment.
3)  Develop an ANN that can be used to predict the future fall risk in elderly adults based on prescribed interventions or declines in functional ability while aging.


Running Injuries Study

Since the 1970’s the number of individuals who run for recreation and fitness has increased dramatically. Unfortunately, despite forty years of research, the frequency and distribution of injuries sustained by these individuals has not changed. In fact, we know that between 25% and 75% of all runners sustain an injury in any one given year.

Addressing this problem is one area of focus in the Motion Analysis Laboratory. The lab is
currently conducting a longitudinal study on running mechanics with aimed at improving current understandings regarding the link between running mechanics and common overuse injuries. The ultimate goal of this research is the development of a reliable method for early identification of individuals who may be at risk for sustaining an overuse running injury. Additionally, this research will examine the effects of specific intervention and rehabilitation effects on preventing and returning individuals from injury.

This is an ongoing project.