Dynamic instability during obstacle crossing following traumatic brain injury

Li Shan Chou, Kenton R. Kaufman, Ann E. Walker-Rabatin, Robert H. Brey, Jeffrey R. Basford

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

104 Scopus citations


Patients with traumatic brain injury (TBI) complain of " imbalance" or "unsteadiness" while walking, despite a normal gait on clinical examination. Thus, the purpose of this study was to determine if it was possible to quantitatively assess dynamic stability that did not have an obvious neuromuscular origin in individuals following TBI. Ten patients with documented TBI and 10 age, gender, and stature-matched healthy individuals participated in the study. All subjects were instructed to perform unobstructed level walking and to step over obstacles corresponding to 2.5%, 5%, 10%, and 15% of their height. A 13-link biomechanical model of the human body was used to compute the kinematics of the whole body center of mass (COM). Subjects with TBI walked with a significantly slower gait speed and shorter stride length than their matched controls. Furthermore, subjects with TBI displayed a significantly greater and faster medio-lateral (M-L) COM motion and maintained a significantly greater M-L separation distance between their COM and center of pressure (COP) than their matched control subjects. These measurements indicate that subjects with TBI have difficulty maintaining dynamic stability in the frontal plane and have a reduced ability to successfully arrest their sagittal momentum. These findings provide an objective measurement that reflects the complaints of instability not observable on clinical examination for individuals who have suffered a TBI. This ability to identify any functional impairment after a traumatic brain injury that may affect patient safety is critical for prevention of re-injury during the recovery period.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)245-254
Number of pages10
JournalGait and Posture
Issue number3
StatePublished - Dec 2004


  • Center of pressure
  • GCS
  • Traumatic brain injury

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Rehabilitation


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