Destabilization of the Upright Posture Through Elevation of the Center of Mass

Natalia Dounskaia, Daniel Peterson, Ryan P. Bruhns

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


The inverted pendulum model predicts that the major challenge for neural control of the upright posture is the inherent instability of the body due to the center of mass (COM) being above the base of support (BOS). If so, even slight elevation of the COM may substantially destabilize posture. The destabilizing effect of heavy load positioned above the COM has been demonstrated. We examined sensitivity of posture to light (1–5% of body weight) load by placing weights on the shoulders and assessing functional reach distance in the forward, right, and left directions and postural sway during quiet stance. At each load level, the quiet stance task was tested with and without vision. The 1% of body weight load significantly shortened reach distance in the forward direction. It also increased postural sway. Interestingly, additional weight did not result in further deficits. The results support high sensitivity of postural stability to COM elevation that increases the challenge for neural control of posture and that can potentially be used for early detection of declines in postural stability.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)318-323
Number of pages6
JournalAnnals of Biomedical Engineering
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2018


  • Balance
  • Inverted pendulum
  • Load
  • Postural stability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomedical Engineering


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