Generalization of Motor Adaptation to Repeated-Slip Perturbation Across Tasks
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Similar adaptations improve both proactive and reactive control of center-of-mass (COM) stability and limb support against gravity during different daily tasks (e.g., sitto-stand and walking) as a consequence of perturbation training for resisting falls. Yet it is unclear whether or to what extent such similarities actually promote inter-task generalization. The purpose of this study was therefore to determine whether young adults could indeed transfer their adaptive control, acquired from sit-to-stand-slip, to improve their likelihood of a recovery from an unannounced novel slip in walking. Subjects underwent either repeated slips during sitto-stand before experiencing an unannounced, novel slip during walking (training group, n=20), or they received no prior training before the same gait-slip (control group, n=23). The subjects demonstrated training-induced generalization of their improved proactive control of stability in post-training (unperturbed) gait pattern that was more stable against backward balance loss than was that of their own pre-training pattern as well the gait pattern of the subjects in the control group. Upon the unannounced novel gait-slip, the training group showed significantly lower incidence of both falls and balance loss than that shown by the control, resulting from the improvements in the reactive control of limb support and slip velocity, which directly influenced the control of their COM stability. Such transfer could occur when the subjects' central nervous system recalibrates the non-task-specific, generalized representation of stability limits during the initial training to guide both their feed-forward adjustments and their feedback responses. The findings of the inter-task generalization suggests that behavioral changes induced via the perturbation training paradigm have the potential to prevent falls across the spectrum of cyclic and non-cyclic activities.