Albert H. Vette
Past Research
Musculoskeletal Biomechanics of the Human Trunk

This research project is motivated by the fact that trunk instability is a major problem for people with spinal cord injury (SCI): it not only compromises their independence in daily life, but also leads to secondary health complications such as respiratory dysfunction, kyphosis, and pressure sores. In fact, a representative survey on recovery priorities within the SCI population revealed that the majority clearly prioritizes the recovery of trunk stability over the recovery of walking function. As such, I have developed a biomechanical model of the human trunk that is used to study the musculoskeletal mechanisms in healthy individuals as well as people with SCI and other neurological disorders.

Using the developed model, I am currently studying mechanisms such as active and passive force contributions; muscle synergies; the relation between muscle activation patterns, spinal loadings, and upper body kinematics; dynamic properties of the trunk; and the effects of intra-abdominal pressure. In addition, I am interested in investigating the interactions of these mechanisms with motor control strategies that healthy people apply to regulate balance. Such knowledge might eventually help to assess the feasibility of a neuroprosthesis for sitting stability after SCI.

Trunk stability is not only a rehabilitation priority of people with SCI, but has also recently been identified as the key factor in human balance control and mobility – independent of the task or application. By combining my analytical expertise and tools with experimental studies, I intend to initiate various studies that investigate trunk stability, upper body balance control, and trunk loading in general. These are undoubtedly issues that nowadays affect a wide range of populations such as people with SCI, stroke, cerebral palsy, and lower back pain.

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