Modulation of intrinsic and reflexive contributions to low-back stabilization due to vision, task instruction, and perturbation bandwidth

P. van Drunen, Y. Koumans, F.C.T. van der Helm, J.H. van Dieen, R. Happee

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The goal of this study is to assess how reflexes and intrinsic properties contribute to low-back stabilization and modulate with conditions. Upper body sway was evoked by anterior–posterior platform translations, while subjects were seated with a restrained pelvis and free upper body. Kinematic analysis of trunk translations and rotations illustrated that a fixed rotation point between the vertebrae L4 and L5 adequately captures lumbar bending up to 5 Hz. To investigate the motor control modulation, the conditions varied in vision (eyes open or closed), task instruction (Balance naturally or Resist perturbations by minimizing low-back motions), and perturbation bandwidth (from 0.2 up to 1, 3 or 10 Hz). Frequency response functions and physiological modeling parameters showed substantial modulation between all conditions. The eyes-open condition led to trunk-in-space behavior with additional long-latency visual feedback and decreased proprioceptive feedback. The task instruction to resist led to trunk-on-pelvis stabilization behavior, which was achieved by higher co-contraction levels and increased reflexive velocity feedback. Perturbations below the low-back natural frequency (~1 Hz) led to trunk-on-pelvis stabilization behavior, mainly attributed to increased intrinsic damping. This indicates that bandwidth effects should not be ignored and that experiments with high-bandwidth perturbations do not fully represent the intrinsic and reflexive behavior during most (low-bandwidth) daily life activities. The neck stabilized the head orientation effectively (head rotation amplitudes 2 % of trunk), but did not effectively stabilize the head in space (global head translations exceeded trunk translations by 20 %). This indicates that low-back motor control is involved in head-in-space stabilization and could explain the low-back motor control modulations due to vision.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)645-749
JournalExperimental Brain Research
Issue number233
Publication statusPublished - 2015


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