Quantifying the effect of sagittal plane joint angle variability on bipedal fall risk

Amy Mitchell, Anne E. Martin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Falls are a major issue for bipeds. For elderly adults, falls can have a negative impact on their quality of life and lead to increased medical costs. Fortunately, interventional methods are effective at reducing falls assuming they are prescribed. For biped robots, falls prevent them from completing required tasks. Thus, it is important to understand what aspects of gait increase fall risk. Gait variability may be associated with increased fall risk; however, previous studies have not investigated the variation in the movement of the legs. The purpose of this study was to determine the effect of joint angle variability on falling to determine which component(s) of variability were statistically significant. In order to investigate joint angle variability, a physics-based simulation model that captured joint angle variability as a function of time through Fourier series was used. This allowed the magnitude, the frequency mean, and the frequency standard deviation of the variability to be altered. For the values tested, results indicated that the magnitude of the variability had the most significant impact on falling, and specifically that the stance knee flexion variability magnitude was the most significant factor. This suggests that increasing the joint variability magnitude may increase fall risk, particularly if the controller is not able to actively compensate. Altering the variability frequency had little to no effect on falling.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0262749
JournalPloS one
Issue number1 January
StatePublished - Jan 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General


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