Biomechanics of Balance and Mobility Lab
The Laboratory for Exercise and Environmental Medicine is jointly operated by the university's Faculty of Kinesiology and Recreation Management, and the Max Rady College of Medicine. We study human responses to exercise and work in extreme environments.
The Biomechanics of Balance and Mobility Lab aims to understand how individuals control and maintain dynamic stability during normal activities of daily living and under situations that pose a considerable balance challenge. We use this information to identify the biomechanical factors that may lead to increased fall-risk among clinical populations, such as older adults and stroke survivors. The long-term goal is to use these findings to inform the development of exercise-based balance rehabilitation programs, targeted at an individual’s specific control challenges.
179 Extended Education
University of Manitoba
Areas of focus
Dr. Singer uses kinetic, kinematic and electromyographic outcome measures to understand human stability control during tasks such as quiet unperturbed standing, compensatory stepping and steady-state gait. The laboratory is equipped with a 16-camera Vicon motion analysis system, 4 walkway-embedded Kistler force platforms, a Bertec fully-instrumented split-belt treadmill, two 8-channel Bortec EMG bioamplifiers, a GAITRite portable pressure sensitive walkway and various strain-gauge based force transducers.
Key Areas of Research
Current research projects
Characterising Whole Body Stability Control
Whole-body centre of mass dynamics and whole-body stability are dictated by global factors such as the magnitude, direction and timing of the net ground reaction force arising from the interaction of both limbs with the ground. This series of experiments, performed across a range of tasks, simultaneously quantifies the cause of instability (i.e. force generation) and the subsequent effect (i.e. centre of mass kinematics), to understand the proactive and reactive components of stability control. This work helps identify the origins of instability among individuals at risk of falling.
Modelling Individual-Limb Contributions to Dynamic Stability
While whole-body stability is ultimately regulated by global kinetic variables, such variables themselves arise from more local variables acting at the level of the individual limb, joint and muscle. This line of work aims to understand how local, joint- and muscle-level, variables directly influence dynamic stability, as measured through centre of mass kinematics. Identifying the links between local biomechanical variables and whole-body stability is a necessary precursor to the development of targeted exercise-based balance interventions and technologies.
Understanding Neuromechanical Contributions to Dynamic Stability
Stability control results from a complex relationship between sensory systems, which detect instability, and the mechanical system, which carries out and constrains movement. Age-related alterations to either the neural or the mechanical system can lead to challenges in maintaining stability and a greater risk of falls. We have previously demonstrated that the CNS is capable of recalibrating its internal representation of lower limb segmental mechanical properties to achieve coordinated intersegmental kinematics during both balance and locomotion. Future work will aim to develop novel metrics capable of quantifying the role of specific sensory information in guiding reactive stability control.
Singer, J.C., Prentice, S.D., McIlroy, W.E. (2019). Exploring the role of applied force eccentricity after foot-contact in managing anterior instability among older adults during compensatory stepping responses. Gait and Posture, 73, 161-167. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gaitpost.2019.07.250
Singer, J.C., Prentice, S.D., McIlroy, W.E. (2016). Age-related challenges in reactive control of mediolateral stability during compensatory stepping: a focus on the dynamics of restabilisation. Journal of Biomechanics, 49(5), 749-755. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jbiomech.2016.02.001
Singer, J.C., Nishihara, K., Mochizuki, G. (2016). Does post-stroke lower limb spasticity influence the recovery of standing balance control? A multilevel growth model of stability control measures over two years. Neurorehabilitation and Neural Repair, 30(7), 626-634. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1545968315613862
Singer, J.C., Mochizuki, G. (2014). Post-Stroke Lower Limb Spasticity Alters the Interlimb Temporal Synchronisation of Centre of Pressure Displacements Across Multiple Timescales. IEEE Transactions on Neural Systems and Rehabilitation Engineering. http://dx.doi.org/10.1109/TNSRE.2014.2353636
Singer, J.C., Noble, J.W., Prentice, S.D. (2011). Locomotor strategies associated with altered lower limb segmental mechanical properties. Human Movement Science, 30(6), 1199-1209. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.humov.2010.09.004