Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Why a giraffe cannot walk like a dachshund

06.03.2009
Scientists at Jena University explore human locomotion within EU project

At first they can hardly move forward, then they start to crawl and finally - after having stood up straight by themselves for the first time - they are filled with sheer enthusiasm about walking.

"The way children learn how to walk is quite similar to the evolutionary transition from the four-legged to the two-legged gait", says Dr. André Seyfarth from the University of Jena.

Together with an international team of researchers he tries to find out how this transition works mechanically. Therefore a cooperation project has been started with colleagues from Switzerland, Belgium, Denmark and Canada. It is funded with EUR 2.7 million by the European Commission for the next four years. Dr. Seyfarth's team in Jena receives EUR 515.000 of it.

Locomorph is the new project's name - deriving from the words locomotion and morphology. This literally means shape of movement. And that is exactly what André Seyfarth aims at: "We want to understand the mechanical and neuronal communication in the moving leg - in order to copy it." The construction of modular walking robots which help to imitate the development from the four-legged to the two-legged locomotion is planned as the last of the project's three parts. But beforehand the scientists have to analyse and study movement as well as to develop computer models.

At the Jena Locomotion Laboratory now the movement of test persons on a treadmill is going to be examined. Specially fitted orthoses are also being used for that. They are normally used for supporting parts of the body that are limited in function, for example for stabilising joints after a sporting accident. "The mechanics of our orthoses have been rebuilt in such way", explains André Seyfarth, "that we can imitate typical movement programs from the outside. The body then can signal us if the programme is perceived in a positive or negative way". Thus the researchers are able to find out if this is the natural state already or if they must go on searching for the right solution. "So to speak, we go the other way around. We try to explain biological matters by identifying basic mechanisms and offering them to the body", says Seyfarth.

In addition to the analyses of the Jena team the colleagues in Belgium take similar measurements with lizards, primates and toddlers. "From this we hope for an exact image of the movement patterns at the transition from the four-legged to the two-legged gait", explains Seyfarth.

On the basis of these data the scientists want to develop a computer model which could then be converted into a technical system. Therefore several walking robots are constructed which allow the imaging and testing of such movement models. The advantage of a technical system is obvious for team leader André Seyfarth: It can be touched and changed, and it examines the reaction caused by the change. "In this way we come closer to the real processes of human motion step by step."

The project's goal is to create a tool by means of robotics which depicts and explains the different human and biological stages of development of the movement morphology. This makes it possible to develop individual therapies and prostheses for patients with motor dysfunctions or leg amputations. Each human being has a very individual gait. That is why Seyfarth considers the traditional method of comparing individual movement patterns to normative reference curves unfavourable. It simply cannot depict the individual motions of a certain body. "If a giraffe is forced to walk like a dachshund it will always remain unhappy since the giraffe simply cannot realise it", Seyfarth explains the problem.

"In four years", he hopes, "with the help of the research results, we might already have established a better basis for the treatment of motor disorders, for instance after an accident. Such treatment could take into consideration the individual morphological preconditions for the locomotion of a single patient."

Contact:
Dr. André Seyfarth
University of Jena
Institute of Sport Science
Dornburger Str. 23
D-07743 Jena
Phone: +49-3641-945730
Email: Andre.Seyfarth[at]uni-jena.de

Manuela Heberer | idw
Further information:
http://www.uni-jena.de/start_en.html

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Zebrafish's near 360 degree UV-vision knocks stripes off Google Street View
22.06.2018 | University of Sussex

nachricht New cellular pathway helps explain how inflammation leads to artery disease
22.06.2018 | Cedars-Sinai Medical Center

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Superconducting vortices quantize ordinary metal

Russian researchers together with their French colleagues discovered that a genuine feature of superconductors -- quantum Abrikosov vortices of supercurrent -- can also exist in an ordinary nonsuperconducting metal put into contact with a superconductor. The observation of these vortices provides direct evidence of induced quantum coherence. The pioneering experimental observation was supported by a first-ever numerical model that describes the induced vortices in finer detail.

These fundamental results, published in the journal Nature Communications, enable a better understanding and description of the processes occurring at the...

Im Focus: Temperature-controlled fiber-optic light source with liquid core

In a recent publication in the renowned journal Optica, scientists of Leibniz-Institute of Photonic Technology (Leibniz IPHT) in Jena showed that they can accurately control the optical properties of liquid-core fiber lasers and therefore their spectral band width by temperature and pressure tuning.

Already last year, the researchers provided experimental proof of a new dynamic of hybrid solitons– temporally and spectrally stationary light waves resulting...

Im Focus: Overdosing on Calcium

Nano crystals impact stem cell fate during bone formation

Scientists from the University of Freiburg and the University of Basel identified a master regulator for bone regeneration. Prasad Shastri, Professor of...

Im Focus: AchemAsia 2019 will take place in Shanghai

Moving into its fourth decade, AchemAsia is setting out for new horizons: The International Expo and Innovation Forum for Sustainable Chemical Production will take place from 21-23 May 2019 in Shanghai, China. With an updated event profile, the eleventh edition focusses on topics that are especially relevant for the Chinese process industry, putting a strong emphasis on sustainability and innovation.

Founded in 1989 as a spin-off of ACHEMA to cater to the needs of China’s then developing industry, AchemAsia has since grown into a platform where the latest...

Im Focus: First real-time test of Li-Fi utilization for the industrial Internet of Things

The BMBF-funded OWICELLS project was successfully completed with a final presentation at the BMW plant in Munich. The presentation demonstrated a Li-Fi communication with a mobile robot, while the robot carried out usual production processes (welding, moving and testing parts) in a 5x5m² production cell. The robust, optical wireless transmission is based on spatial diversity; in other words, data is sent and received simultaneously by several LEDs and several photodiodes. The system can transmit data at more than 100 Mbit/s and five milliseconds latency.

Modern production technologies in the automobile industry must become more flexible in order to fulfil individual customer requirements.

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Munich conference on asteroid detection, tracking and defense

13.06.2018 | Event News

2nd International Baltic Earth Conference in Denmark: “The Baltic Sea region in Transition”

08.06.2018 | Event News

ISEKI_Food 2018: Conference with Holistic View of Food Production

05.06.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Rapid water formation in diffuse interstellar clouds

25.06.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Using tree-fall patterns to calculate tornado wind speed

25.06.2018 | Earth Sciences

'Stealth' material hides hot objects from infrared eyes

25.06.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>