Etude du contrôle postural chez l'homme : analyse des facteurs neurophysiologiques, biomécaniques et cognitifs, impliqués dans les 500 premières millisecondes d'une chute

Abstract : A better understanding of what happens during an unintentional fall is relevant in preventing their occurrence. A fall is due to a failure of compensatory reactions to recover from postural perturbations during the descent phase which starts at the subject loss of balance point and lasts no more than 700-1000milliseconds [Hsiao, 1998]. The aim of the first study was to compare the biomechanical and muscular behavior during the pre-impact phase during non-recoverable falls and successful recovery trials. The experimental study aimed to evaluate the subject’s ability to distinguish in the first 500 milliseconds following the onset of perturbation a low-threatening perturbation from a high challenging one and can then predict the scenario that will more likely lead to a fall using specific motor strategies. In such a challenging task, we hypothesized that the constraints imposed by the biomechanical properties ultimately determine the ability to trigger efficient muscle activities. Full body 3D kinematics and associated muscle activities were collected in 30 young healthy subjects during fast and slow unpredictable multidirectional support-surface translations. 40 cm support-surface translations were used to evoke the balancing reactions (0,35 vs 0,9 m/s during resp. 1000 vs 500 millisecond The perturbation velocities were selected so that successful recovery should occur in milder trials whereas fast trials were sufficiently challenging to trigger non-recoverable falls. Analyses focused on the spatial and temporal characteristics of the Centre of Mass, angle variations, recovery step characteristics, and EMG activities (onset latencies and amplitudes) across each trial and muscle. Moreover, a 17-segment numerical and personalized model was created, based on stereoradiographic head to feet X-ray images followed by 3D-reconstruction methods to assess subject-specific geometry and inertial parameters. The outputs resulting from simulated falls allowed us to discard the contributions of the passive (inertia-induced) versus the active mechanisms (feedback-controlled and time-delayed neuromuscular components) of the response. The first outcome of that study was that the fall could be divided in distinct phases. For about 200 milliseconds following the onset of platform translation, the head remained stable in space. Similarly, the comparison with the simulated data supported that the CoM displacement matched the subject-dependant mechanical model. During a second phase of the fall, despite the fact that automated muscle postural synergies started at 80 milliseconds after perturbation onset, the trajectory of the body appeared to be exclusively dictated by its biomechanical properties. Later, muscle activities influenced the body trajectories, which consequently differed on a trial-to-trial basis. The simulation was in good agreement with the experimental results. The specificity of the postural response resulting in a strategy chosen to avoid a fall thus appeared in a late-phase, which can be explained because during a fall, the subjects had to prepare to the impact on the basis of sensory information that were not redundant but available in a sequential order: proprioceptive information appearing first while vestibular and visual information continued to signal a stabilized head in space. The sole proprioceptive information would be insufficient to trigger rapid and appropriate postural response. Moreover, in accordance with our results suggesting the importance of the late-phase and on-line controlled responses, a long inertial passive phase in the fast trials does not allow a large spatiotemporal window for compensatory reactions to occur. These could not only depend on the previously described automated postural synergies because the time constraints imposed by biomechanics permit in principle volitional motricity to play an important role very early in the fall. (...)
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Maëva Le Goïc. Etude du contrôle postural chez l'homme : analyse des facteurs neurophysiologiques, biomécaniques et cognitifs, impliqués dans les 500 premières millisecondes d'une chute. Médecine humaine et pathologie. Université René Descartes - Paris V, 2013. Français. ⟨NNT : 2013PA05T095⟩. ⟨tel-01002633⟩

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