A new balance tester was developed for the departments of Rehabilitation and Neurology of the Radboud University Medical Center in Nijmegen, that is unique in the world in its ability to simulate human balance and falling and measures all responses, such as muscular activity and direction and size of forces for balance corrections. This has enabled the Radboud UMC to take a leap forward in scientific research to unravel the mechanisms behind falls by the elderly and neurological patients and to develop new training programs that help prevent falls.
The balance tester (2.4 x 5 meters) is unique in its approach to reality. Dr. Vivian Weerdesteyn, Head Movement Laboratories of the Department of Rehabilitation explains: “It has a large moving platform that can move unexpectedly in all possible directions. This allows us to bring someone so out of balance that the person actually tends to fall. For reassurance: the participants wear a protective harness. During a trial, we record all balance responses very accurately. Thus, we measure very detailed muscle activity and the movements of the body. Thanks to force plates in the platform floor, we are able to determine exactly the intensity of the force that the participant uses in trying to restore balance.”
IMOTEC developed the robotics and control of this system. A major challenge was to realize the required accelerations within the available volumetric budget.