Human motor control of landing from a drop in simulated microgravity.

September 01, 2016 By:
  • Gambelli CN
  • Theisen D
  • Willems PA
  • Schepens B.

Landing on the ground on one's feet implies that the energy gained during the fall be dissipated. The aim of this study is to assess human motor control of landing in different conditions of fall initiation, simulated gravity, and sensory neural input. Six participants performed drop landings using a trapdoor system and landings from self-initiated counter-movement jumps in microgravity conditions simulated in a weightlessness environment by different pull-down forces of 1-, 0.6-, 0.4-, and 0.2 g External forces applied to the body, orientation of the lower limb segments, and muscular activity of 6 lower limb muscles were recorded synchronously. Our results show that 1) subjects are able to land and stabilize in all experimental conditions; 2) prelanding muscular activity is always present, emphasizing the capacity of the central nervous system to approximate the instant of touchdown; 3) the kinetics and muscular activity are adjusted to the amount of energy gained during the fall; 4) the control of landing seems less finely controlled in drop landings as suggested by higher impact forces and loading rates, plus lower mechanical work done during landing for a given amount of energy to be dissipated. In conclusion, humans seem able to adapt the control of landing according to the amount of energy to be dissipated in an environment where sensory information is altered, even under conditions of non-self-initiated falls.

2016 Sep. J Appl Physiol.121(3):760-770. Epub 2016 Aug 11.
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