There is a critical and immediate need for innovation in our study of the biomechanics and neural control of movement, toward more effective translational efforts to preserve walking ability and mitigate falls risk due to aging and neurodegenerative disease. I will discuss recent discoveries from two major lines of research in our Applied Biomechanics Laboratory to meet this need.
First, I will describe our use of novel ultrasound imaging techniques to study aging effects on muscle-tendon structure and function in the context of age-related mobility impairment. I will also describe opportunities to leverage this infrastructure for the bioinspired design of ankle exoskeletons for enhanced mobility in aging.
Second, I will describe our use of virtual reality and sensory perturbations to detect preclinical walking balance impairment and subsequently to enhance reactive balance control and thus walking balance integrity through task-specific training.