Biomechanics and Motor Control Lab

Biomechanics and Motor Control Lab

Research Interests

The major research focus of the laboratory is on biomechanics and motor control of locomotion and reaching movements in healthy people and individuals with neurological and musculoskeletal pathological conditions. In particular, we study the mechanisms of motor learning and adaptation to novel motor tasks and to pathologic conditions of the neuromusculoskeletal system caused by disease (peripheral nerve and spinal cord injury, amputation, vision impairment). We also investigate how motor practice and sensory information affect selections of adaptive motor strategies.

Current Research Projects
  • Neuromusculoskeletal Modeling and Computer Simulation of Spinal Locomotion
    In this project our laboratory develops a comprehensive musculoskeletal model of spinal locomotion that is capable of generating realistic mechanics of walking and computing sensory feedback from the muscles and paw pads. The simulated walking and the feedback signals are computed based on the dynamic equations of limb and muscle dynamics and experimentally recorded muscle activity used as input. The musculoskeletal model is being integrated with a computational model of locomotor Central Pattern Generator (CPG; Rybak, McGrea, et al., 2006) through feedback and feedforward connections. This integrated neuromusculoskeletal model will allow for detailed investigations of the structure and functions of CPG and the role of proprioceptive feedback in regulation of CPG activity. This is a collaborative project with laboratories of Drs. Lemay, Markin and Rybak from Drexel University College of Medicine.


  • Sensory Mechanisms of Functional Compensation After Peripheral Nerve Injury
    In this project we investigate (1) the effects of lost proprioception in proximal muscles as a result of peripheral nerve injury and repair on interlimb, interjoint and intermuscle coordination during locomotion, (2) the mechanisms underlying functionally appropriate co
    mpensations after partial paralysis of a muscle group, and (3) the effects of onset time and type of therapeutic interventions on locomotion recovery after peripheral nerve injury. This project involves close collaboration with Dr. Gregor (Georgia Tech, USC), Dr. English (Emory University), and Dr. Nichols (Georgia Tech). Spinal circuitry and mechanical consequences of loss of proprioception are simulated in collaboration with Dr. Edwards (Georgia State University) using software AnimatLab developed in his group.


  • Mobility Skill Acquisition and Learning through Alternative and Multimodal Perception for Visually Impaired People
    In this project we study the role of different modes of sensory feedback information (visual, auditory and vibrotactile) needed by visually impaired people to perform wayfinding and arm reaching tasks. To understand the process of sensorimotor integration during skill acquisition in these tasks, we perform measurements of brain activity and movement performance and also develop a model of sensorimotor integration. This project is conducted in collaboration with Drs. Zhigang Zhu, Tony Ro, Ying Li Tian, Kok-Meng Lee and Lewis Wheaton.


  • Direct Brain Interfaces for Stroke Rehabilitation4Brain
    In this exploratory project we collaborate with the group of Dr. Moore-Jackson (Georgia Tech) to determine if a Direct Brain Interface based on real-time electroencephalographic recordings can be successfully integrated with a rehabilitation robot to provide therapeutic options for people with severe motor disabilities.
  • Mechanics and Control of Precise Stepping5stepping
    In this collaborative project with Dr. Beloozerova (Barrow Neurological Institute) we ask how accurate stepping movements are organized and achieved and what are the biomechanical and neural mechanisms of accurate locomotor movements. We address these questions by assessing full-body mechanics, limb muscle activity, and activity of motor cortex during locomotor task with different demands on the accuracy of foot placement. Our subjects walk on a continuous flat surface, on horizontal ladders with rungs of different widths, and along narrow pathways.
  • Innovations in Lower Limb Prosthesis Attachment
    This collaborative project with Dr. Mark Pitkin (Tufts University), Dr. John F. Dalton IV (Georgia Hand, Shoulder & Elbow) and Robert S. Kistenberg (Georgia Tech) focuses on the development of the Skin and Bone Integrated Pylon that is intended for direct skeletal attachment of limb prostheses.


Research Opportunities

Research opportunities related to the projects listed above are available for graduate and undergraduate students. Dr. Prilutsky is also a faculty member of the Georgia Tech’s Bioengineering Graduate Program and an adjunct faculty member of the Division of Physical Therapy at Emory University School of Medicine. Undergraduate students interested in research opportunities in the lab are encouraged to apply for the the President’s Undergraduate Research Awards.

Recently Organized Meetings/Workshops

Neuromechanical Modeling of Posture and Locomotion

Recent Publications
    • Books and book chapters
      • Zatsiorsky VM and Prilutsky BI (2012) Biomechanics of Skeletal Muscles. Human Kinetics.
      • Prilutsky BI and Klishko AN (2010) Control of locomotion: Lessons from whole-body biomechanical analysis. In: Motor Control: Theories, Experiments, and Applications (Danion F and Latash ML Eds), pp. 159-178.). Oxford University Press.
      • Prilutsky BI, Klishko AN, Farrell B, Harley L, Philips G, Bottasso CL. (2009) Movement coordination in skilled tasks: Insights from optimization. In: Advances in Neuromuscular Physiology of Motor Skills and Muscle Fatigue (Shinohara M Ed.), pp. 139-171. Research Signpost, Kerala, India. PDF
  • Peer-reviewed articles
    • Hodson-Tole EF, Pantall A, Maas H, Farrell BJ, Gregor BJ, Prilutsky BI. (2012) Task dependent activity of motor unit populations in feline ankle extensor muscles. J Exp Biology (In Press). PubMed
    • Pantall A, Gregor RJ, Prilutsky BI. (2012) Stance and swing phase detection during level and slope walking in the cat: effects of slope, injury, subject and kinematic detection method. J Biomech. 45(8):1529-1533.PubMed
    • Markin SN, Lemay MA, Prilutsky BI, Rybak IA. (2012) Motoneuronal and muscle synergies involved in cat hindlimb control during fictive and real locomotion: a comparison study. J Neurophysiol. 107(8):2057-2071.PDF
    • Prilutsky BI, Ashley D, VanHiel L, Harley L, Tidwell JS, Backus D (2011) Motor control and motor redundancy in the upper extremity: Implications for neurorehabilitation. Top Spinal Cord Inj Rehabil. 17(1): 7-15. PDF
    • Spardy LE, Markin SN, Shevtsova NA, Prilutsky BI, Rybak IA, Rubin JE. (2011) A dynamical systems analysis of afferent control in a neuromechanical model of locomotion: II. Phase asymmetry. J Neural Eng. 8(6):065004. PubMed
    • Spardy LE, Markin SN, Shevtsova NA, Prilutsky BI, Rybak IA, Rubin JE. (2011) A dynamical systems analysis of afferent control in a neuromechanical model of locomotion: I. Rhythm generation. J Neural Eng. 8(6):065003. PubMed
    • Prilutsky BI, Maas H, Bulgakova M, Hodson-Tole EF, Gregor RJ. (2011) Short-term motor compensations to denervation of feline soleus and lateral gastrocnemius result in preservation of ankle mechanical output during locomotion. Cells Tissues Organs. 193(5):310-324. PDF
    • Ollivier-Lanvin K, Krupka AJ, AuYong N, Miller K, Prilutsky BI, Lemay MA. (2011) Electrical stimulation of the sural cutaneous afferent nerve controls the amplitude and onset of the swing phase of locomotion in the spinal cat. J Neurophysiol. 2011 May;105(5):2297-2308. PDF
    • Markin SN, Klishko AN, Shevtsova NA, Lemay M, Prilutsky BI, Rybak IA. (2010)Afferent control of locomotor CPG: Insights from a simple neuro-mechanical model. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 1198:21-34PDF
    • Maas H, Gregor RJ, Hodson-Tole EF, Farrell BJ, English AW, Prilutsky BI. (2010) Locomotor changes in length and EMG activity of feline medial gastrocnemius muscle following paralysis of two synergists. Exp Brain Res. 203(4):681-692. PDF
    • Beloozerova IN, Farrell BJ, Sirota MG, Prilutsky BI. (2010) Differences in movement mechanics, electromyographic, and motor cortex activity between accurate and non-accurate stepping. J Neurophysiol. 103(4):2285-2300. PDF
    • Lum PS, Mulroy S, Amdur RL, Requecjo P, Prilutsky BI, Dromerick AW. (2009) Gains in upper extremity function after stroke via recovery or compensation: Potential differential effects on amount of real-world limb use. Topics in Stroke Rehabilitation 16(4), 237-253. PDF
    • Pitkin M, Raykhtsaum G, Pilling J, Shukeylo Yu, Moxson V, Duz V, Lewandowski J, Connolly R, Kistenberg RS, Dalton JF IV, Prilutsky BI, Jacobson S. (2009) Mathematical modeling, mechanical and histopathology testing of the porous prosthetic pylon for direct skeletal attachment J Rehabil Res Dev. , 46(3): 315-330.PDF
    • Maas H, Gregor RJ, Hodson-Tole EF, Farrell BJ, Prilutsky BI. (2009) Distinct muscle fascicle length changes in feline medial gastrocnemius and soleus during slope walking. J Appl Physiol. 106(4): 1169-1180. PDF