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Multi-behavioral neuromuscular control of balance across health, disease, and injury

Jessica Allen, an Assistant Professor at West Virginia University
Friday, March 6, 2020, 11:30 am
Jake Rahe
201 W. 19th Ave
Columbus, OH 43201

Abstract: Falls due to a loss of balance are a primary cause of injury in older adults and individuals with a wide range of neurological deficits.  The circumstances in which these falls occur consist of many different movement behaviors commonly encountered during daily life, such as standing quietly, getting in or out of a chair, and walking. How the nervous system successfully maintains balance across these multiple movement behaviors and what goes wrong in persons with deteriorated musculoskeletal and/or neurological systems remains poorly understood. Without this information, designing interventions that produce improvements in balance that generalize to all the movement behaviors encountered during daily life remains difficult. In this talk, I will discuss our work investigating the multi-behavioral neuromuscular control of balance control using a combination of experimental and computational modeling techniques from biomechanics and neural control. I will highlight examples across various populations (e.g. healthy young and old adults, individuals with Parkinson’s disease, and stroke survivors) and different movement behaviors (e.g., walking, standing, chair transfer, etc.) to demonstrate the importance of multi-behavioral investigations.

About the Speaker: Jessica Allen is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemical and Biomedical Engineering at West Virginia University. She received her undergraduate degree in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Florida and PhD in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin, where she was awarded an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship. She then received training in the neural control of movement as an NIH Ruth L. Kirschstein NRSA Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Emory University and Georgia Institute of Technology. Through both experimental and computational modeling techniques, work in her lab aims to identify principles underlying the interaction between the neural, muscular, and skeletal systems that can inform interventional decisions to improve multi-behavioral balance control and overall mobility during daily life.

Host: Rob Siston