Is There an Optimal Recovery Step Landing Zone Against Slip-Induced Backward Falls During Walking?

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


External Institution(s)

  • University of Illinois at Chicago


Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1768-1778
Number of pages11
JournalAnnals of biomedical engineering
Issue number6
StatusPublished - Jun 1 2020


Recovery stepping in response to forward slips has the potential to not only rebuild the base of support to prevent backward falling, but also provide extra limb support to prevent downward falling. Hence, recovery stepping is often necessary for fall prevention following an unexpected slip. However, less is known about whether recovery foot placement could affect the likelihood of recovery following a slip. The purpose of this study was to determine whether there is an optimal recovery landing zone within which older adults have a higher likelihood of recovery. 195 participants experienced a novel, unannounced forward slip while walking on a 7-m walkway. The center of mass (COM) stability (computed from its position and velocity), vertical limb support (computed from change in hip kinematics), and recovery limb joint moments (computed from joint kinematics and ground reaction force) in the sagittal plane were analyzed. The results showed that a longer distance between recovery foot landing position and the projected COM position at recovery foot touchdown (relative recovery step placement) was conducive to stability improvement but adverse to limb support enhancement, and vice versa for a shorter distance. Relative recovery step placement could predict the recovery likelihood with an accuracy of 67.3%, and the recovery rate was greater than 50% when the distance between recovery foot and COM is less than 0.3 × foot length. This study also found more posterior stepping could be attributed to insufficient ankle plantar flexor and hip flexor moments in the pre-swing phase, while more anterior stepping was induced by insufficient hip and knee extensor moments in the following swing phase.

    Research areas

  • Joint moment, Limb support, Optimal landing zone, Recovery step, Stability

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