Development and piloting of a perturbation stationary bicycle robotic system that provides unexpected lateral perturbations during bicycling (the PerStBiRo system)

Shani Batcir, Yaakov Livne, Rotem Lev Lehman, Shmil Edelman, Lavi Schiller, Omri Lubovsky, Guy Shani, Amir Shapiro, Itshak Melzer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background: Balance control, and specifically balance reactive responses that contribute to maintaining balance when balance is lost unexpectedly, is impaired in older people. This leads to an increased fall risk and injurious falls. Improving balance reactive responses is one of the goals in fall-prevention training programs. Perturbation training during standing or treadmill walking that specifically challenges the balance reactive responses has shown very promising results; however, only older people who are able to perform treadmill walking can participate in these training regimes. Thus, we aimed to develop, build, and pilot a mechatronic Perturbation Stationary Bicycle Robotic system (i.e., PerStBiRo) that can challenge balance while sitting on a stationary bicycle, with the aim of improving balance proactive and reactive control. Methods: This paper describes the development, and building of the PerStBiRo using stationary bicycles. In addition, we conducted a pilot randomized control trial (RCT) with 13 older people who were allocated to PerStBiRo training (N = 7) versus a control group, riding stationary bicycles (N = 6). The Postural Sway Test, Berg Balance Test (BBS), and 6-min Walk Test were measured before and after 3 months i.e., 20 training sessions. Results: The PerStBiRo System provides programmed controlled unannounced lateral balance perturbations during stationary bicycling. Its software is able to identify a trainee’s proactive and reactive balance responses using the Microsoft Kinect™ system. After a perturbation, when identifying a trainee’s trunk and arm reactive balance response, the software controls the motor of the PerStBiRo system to stop the perturbation. The pilot RCT shows that, older people who participated in the PerStBiRo training significantly improved the BBS (54 to 56, p = 0.026) and Postural Sway velocity (20.3 m/s to 18.3 m/s, p = 0.018), while control group subject did not (51.0 vs. 50.5, p = 0.581 and 15 m/s vs. 13.8 m/s, p = 0.893, respectively), 6MWT tended to improve in both groups. Conclusions: Our participants were able to perform correct balance proactive and reactive responses, indicating that older people are able to learn balance trunk and arm reactive responses during stationary bicycling. The pilot study shows that these improvements in balance proactive and reactive responses are generalized to performance-based measures of balance (BBS and Postural Sway measures).

Original languageEnglish
Article number71
JournalBMC Geriatrics
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2021


  • Balance control
  • Balance reactive responses
  • Fall-prevention training
  • Falls
  • Old people
  • Perturbation training

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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