Increasing knowledge on human balance recovery strategies is important for the development of balance assistance strategies using assistive devices like a powered lower-limb exoskeleton. One of the postures which is relevant for this scenario, but underexposed in research, is staggered stance, a posture with one foot in front. We therefore aimed to gain a better understanding of balance recovery in staggered stance. We studied balance responses at joint- and muscle levels to pelvis perturbations in various directions while standing in this posture. Ten healthy individuals participated in this study. We used one actuator beside and one behind the participant to apply 150 ms perturbations in mediolateral (ML), anteroposterior (AP) and diagonal directions, with a magnitude of 3, 6, 9 and 12% of the participant’s body weight (BW). Meanwhile, motion capture, ground reaction forces and moments, and electromyography of the muscles around the ankles and hips were recorded. The perturbations caused movements of the centre of mass (CoM) and centre of pressure (CoP) in the direction of the perturbation. These were often accompanied by motions in a direction different from the perturbation direction. After perturbations perpendicular to the line between both feet, large and significant AP deviations were present of the CoM (-0.27 till 0.40 cm/%BW, p < 0.029) and CoP (-0.99 till 0.80 cm/%BW, p < 0.001). Also, stronger responses on joint and muscle level were present after these perturbations, compared to AP and diagonal perturbations collinear with the line between both feet. The hip, knee and ankle joints contributed differently to the balance responses after the different perturbation directions. To conclude, standing in a staggered stance posture makes individuals more vulnerable to perturbations perpendicular to the line between both feet, requiring larger responses on joint level as well as contributions in the sagittal plane.
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Data belonging to the paper: Pelvis perturbations in various directions while standing in staggered stance elicit concurrent responses in both the sagittal and frontal plane