Falls and fear of falling pose major threats to health and independence among elderly people. Our objective is to gain further knowledge regarding balance control aspects on fall risk and fear of falling by
- assessing postural sway and control mechanisms in static and dynamic tests,
- creating a robotic humanoid with artificial muscles and electronic control systems
- establishing a mathematical formulation of balance control and experimentally evaluate it on the robotic humanoid.
This will be undertaken by a close co-operation between Physiotherapy and Automatic Control researchers. A sample of voluntary elderly people will be studied in a movement analysis laboratory as for postural sway which will be analyzed using frequency analysis. Further, we will design and evaluate formal mathematical models based on these observations. Constructing a humanoid robot designed to mimic human biomechanics and motor control system will allow us to test various motor control theories and also to investigate the effects on the postural control and postural sway when perturbations, sensory and motor reductions and noise is experimentally introduced, mimicking physiological changes related to aging. Finally, we plan to back-test findings by validating them in new laboratory trials on elderly volunteers. This novel research initiative, combining two scientific disciplines, can create important new knowledge of great value for prediction and prevention of falls and fear of falls.