Compensation for Inertial and Gravity Effects in a Moving Force Platform

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Journal of Biomechanics


Force plates for human movement analysis provide accurate measurements when mounted rigidly on an inertial reference frame. Large measurement errors occur, however, when the force plate is accelerated, or tilted relative to gravity. This prohibits the use of force plates in human perturbation studies with controlled surface movements, or in conditions where the foundation is moving or not sufficiently rigid. Here we present a linear model to predict the inertial and gravitational artifacts using accelerometer signals. The model is first calibrated with data collected from random movements of the unloaded system and then used to compensate for the errors in another trial. The method was tested experimentally on an instrumented force treadmill capable of dynamic mediolateral translation and sagittal pitch. The compensation was evaluated in five experimental conditions, including platform motions induced by actuators, by motor vibration, and by human ground reaction forces. In the test that included all sources of platform motion, the root-mean-square (RMS) errors were 39.0 N and 15.3 N m in force and moment, before compensation, and 1.6 N and 1.1 N m, after compensation. A sensitivity analysis was performed to determine the effect on estimating joint moments during human gait. Joint moment errors in hip, knee, and ankle were initially 53.80 N m, 32.69 N m, and 19.10 N m, and reduced to 1.67 N m, 1.37 N m, and 1.13 N m with our method. It was concluded that the compensation method can reduce the inertial and gravitational artifacts to an acceptable level for human gait analysis.


This research was supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 1344954 and by the Ohio Department of Development, Third Frontier Commission.