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New model shows importance of feet, toes in body balance
Date:3/10/2011

COLUMBUS, Ohio Researchers are using a new model to learn more about how toe strength can determine how far people can lean while keeping their balance.

The results could help in building robotic body parts that will closely imitate human movement, and might lead to a new generation of advanced prosthetics.

Hooshang Hemami, professor of electrical and computer engineering at Ohio State University built a complex computational model of the human foot to look at the role of the feet and toes in determining the body's movement and balance.

Many studies concerning human balance have emphasized the legs and upper body while ignoring the feet, he said.

Hemami is one of a handful of researchers who are analyzing how manipulating toe strength can affect human balance.

"In order to reduce the complexity of the problem, the feet are often either neglected or modeled using simple shapes that don't really give full credit to the importance of feet," Hemami continued.

Hemami and a colleague, Laura Humphrey, designed a computer model of a body and foot which assigned four different sections to represent different parts of the foot, while assigning the body one section. This allowed Hemami and Humphrey to focus primarily on the pressure of the feet and toes as they manipulated the forward motion of the body.

Hemami and Humphrey's work was published in a recent issue of the Journal of Biomechanics. The researchers performed simulations of static balance and forward leaning in the computer-modeled body, and compared the results to those observed in the scientific literature.

Static balance is when a subject stands either straight or at a certain angle, and is able to remain stabilized in that position with the entire surface area of the bottom of the foot on the ground. The computer model can perform forward leaning indefinitely, but human subjects will experience muscle fatigue eventually, explai
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Contact: Hooshang Hemami
Hemami.1@osu.edu
614-292-2848
Ohio State University
Source:Eurekalert

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