Historically, locomotion research focused on walking over flat ground at constant speed, which did not capture the complex adaptations that are required in order to traverse typical, cluttered environments. Our research has demonstrated that locomotor control is primarily implemented proactively, rather than reactively. These proactive adaptations are based on the visually observable properties of the environment and the task demands. Dr. Rietdyk’s research has shown that enhanced visual cues facilitated locomotor behavior when stepping over an obstacle and there is an apparent trade-off between strategies to gather visual information and trunk control as a function of a load-carrying task.
Since 2017, we have expanded the scope of this work to include synergistic control of adaptive locomotion. The goal is to identify coordination between various body elements (legs, joints of the legs, or muscles in the legs) that allow humans to navigate their built environments. We are interested in identifying the nature of this coordination, and how the coordination is proactively adapted to prepare for a maneuver. Finally, we study how healthy aging and pathology affect the coordination and proactive adaptations. This foundational science is expected to reveal an important source of balance issues in different populations.
We recently derived a measure from the stepping patterns of individuals as they approach and then cross a shin-high obstacle. Our inter-step covariance (ISC) metric shows changes across age (Link to paper) and in persons with Parkinson’s disease (Link to paper). We are exploring how this metric can be used to diagnose and improve locomotor balance problems.
Synergistic control of adaptive locomotion continues to be our major focus in 2022 and beyond. We presented our recent work in several international conferences (Dynamic Walking 2022, ISPGR 2022, ASB 2020, 21, 22), and we have published several papers on these topics (see profiles of Dr. Ambike or Dr. Rietdyk), and preprints of our most recent work are available on bioRxiv (Link 1, Link 2).
Get in touch if you are interested in working on these projects with us.
PI – Dr. Satyajit Ambike and Dr. Shirley Rietdyk
Current students – Ashwini Kulkarni, Ruchika Iqbal.
Past students – Chuyi Cui, Nate Romine, HyeYoung Cho, Michel Heijnen, Sam Pontecorvo, Brittney Muir, Chris Rhea.