Norwegian version

Brain activation during gait and balance

The human body is a biological marvel in many ways. A seemingly simple and everyday characteristic that tends to be overlooked is bipedality, which results from a complex stability and balance system that enables humans to stand, walk, and run.

Balance requires complex coordination between brain regions, the musculoskeletal system, and the limbs. In order to understand the phenomenon of balance control from a bipedal perspective, it would be natural to start from the human's physical contact time with the ground when we walk, i.e., the contact of the feet with the ground.

The first thing that touches the ground in a step is the heel. Sensory input from the foot activates the cerebral cortex's sensory and motor regions in the brain, enabling us to find control in our movements.

An inwardly rotated heel bone will direct the body weight towards the big toe side of the foot, which often causes negative consequences related to balance, step cycle, postural control, and chronic musculoskeletal for many people.

Limited modalities can be applied for monitoring neural activities in dynamic human balance control, particularly in an upstanding position. Today, there are only two ways to measure a subject's neural activities in the brain during gait and balance upstanding tasks, e.g., electroencephalogram (EEG) and functional Near-InfraRed Spectroscopy (fNIRS), respectively.

In this project, a hybrid of EEG and fNIRS associated with cortical activation is applied to identify the brain activation and the connectivity between cerebral regions with different balance and gait conditions.

The equipment is portable and non-invasive and uses a passive measurement of potential neural activation and low levels of non-ionizing light to record changes in the brain's cerebral blood flow during tasks such as standing or walking.

In particular, the fNIRS technology can shine new insights on the brain's evolution as the information contains both neural activation (Neurovascular Coupling) and the blood flow control network.

Through this project, we want to be able to bring more knowledge about the importance of the heel and foot for postural stability and balance reflexes. Through our hypothesis that different shoe models/shoe technical structures or constructions will be able to activate the brain differently and thus have an impact on the optimization of posture and movement solutions.

The project will generate knowledge that can be used to prepare larger projects and create understanding around the phenomenon of walking, balance, and the importance of postural strategies for good health and performance in everyday life.

  • Participants

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  • Partner institutions

    • Gaitline Inc
    • Bergen CarbonSolutions Inc
    • Quick Foam Inc