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Journal Article


Komisar V, Nirmalanathan K, King EC, Maki BE, Novak AC. Appl. Ergon. 2019; 76: 20-31.


iDAPT Centre for Rehabilitation Research, Toronto Rehabilitation Institute - University Health Network, 13-000, 550 University Avenue, Toronto, Ontario, M5G 2A2, Canada; Rehabilitation Sciences Institute, University of Toronto, 500 University Avenue - Room 160, Toronto, Ontario, M5G 1V7, Canada; Faculty of Kinesiology and Physical Education, University of Toronto, 55 Harbord Street, Toronto, Ontario, M5S 2W8, Canada; Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy, University of Toronto, 500 University Avenue - Room 160, Toronto, Ontario, M5G 1V7, Canada.


(Copyright © 2019, Elsevier Publishing)






Well-designed handrails significantly enhance balance recovery, by allowing users to apply high forces to the rail and stabilize their center of mass. However, data on user-applied handrail forces during balance recovery are limited. We characterized the peak forces that 50 young adults applied to a handrail during forward and backward falling motions; quantified effects of handrail height (34, 38, 42 inches) and position prior to balance loss (standing beside the rail with or without hand contact, or facing the handrail with two-handed contact); and examined the relationship between handrail forces and individual mass. The testing environment consisted of a robotic platform that translated rapidly to destabilize participants, and a height-adjustable handrail that was mounted to the platform. Our findings support our hypotheses that starting position and handrail height significantly affect peak handrail forces in most axes. The highest handrail forces were applied when participants faced the handrail and grasped with two hands. In these cases, increased handrail height was associated with increased anterior forces and decreased downward, upward and resultant forces. As hypothesized, peak handrail forces correlated strongly with individual weight in most axes. Implications of these findings for handrail design are discussed.

Copyright © 2018 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Language: en


Balance recovery; Handrail design; Kinetics


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