The Biomechanics Core provides an array of techniques and equipment for the precise experimental quantification of physical functioning of healthy and frail elders in order to investigate attributes of the aging phenotype. It also supplies support for theoretical investigations in the form of computer simulation models to analyze the elements of those functional abilities and to establish the major determinants of abilities to perform motor acts in an effective manner. The Core is physically based in the Biomechanics Research Laboratory (directed by Dr. Ashton-Miller) and the Mobility Research Center (directed by Dr. Alexander).
Physical disabilities are epidemic in the elderly. Whatever the underlying pathologies, these disabilities express themselves in biomechanical terms: reduced muscular strengths and rates of developing strengths, limited ranges and speeds of motion, reduced afferent feedback, inappropriate body segment coordination patterns, difficulty with balance and fall arrests, and even impaired pelvic floor and continence system function.
The Biomechanics Core will contribute to the development of academic leaders in geriatrics by helping interested faculty and their fellows to analyze a range of geriatric problems through biomechanical research techniques. Thus, it will train them through directed study involving background reviews, hypothesis generation, interdisciplinary pilot research projects, and data analysis and interpretation to examine issues adversely affecting the physical abilities of the elderly.
Ongoing research in the area of balance, falls and mobility:
- Theory for loss of balance detection
- Effects of balance impairments
- Peripheral neuropathy and gait on uneven surfaces
- 180 degree standing turns and foot-foot contact
- Towards strategies for reducing fall-related injuries
- Effects of divided attention
- Mechanisms of ACL injury
- Interaction of frailty on the energetics of walking
- Studies of risk-taking in the elderly
- Interaction of vision, physical and cognitive impairments on mobility
- Development of portable instrumentation to detect:
- loss of balance and falls
- maximum power at high joint rotation velocities
On-going research in pelvic floor impairments in women:
- Functional anatomy of the pelvic floor
- Effect of vaginal birth
- Biomechanics of prolapse, urinary and fecal incontinence
- Development of instrumentation for measuring pelvic floor muscle strength
Core Director: James Ashton-Miller, Ph.D.