PERCEPTION of BALANCE and MOVEMENT

Post 496  by Gautam Shah

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In buildings and landscapes we move around with natural care. The care includes maintaining balance, controlling the speed of movement, knowing which of the body limbs are where, the direction of movement, orientation of the body and postural position. We sense our own body movement and external forces that quicken or slow it down, without using other sensual faculties. We sense the position of our body and the direction of movement. We also perceive the spatial position and orientation with three-dimensional references. And yet within that we attain and maintain the postural equilibrium.

Pic from Fickr through Wikipedia by Author : Bengt Nyman

Balance and movement are two interconnected experiences. Balance, equilibrioception, or vestibular sense is the sense that allows an organism to sense body Movement, Direction, and Acceleration. The organ of equilibrioception is the vestibular labyrinthine system found in both of the inner ears. In technical terms, this organ is responsible for two senses of angular momentum acceleration and linear acceleration (which also senses gravity), but they are known together as equilibrioception.

Exercises using the Interim Resistive Exercise Device (IRED) equipment NASA

The vestibular system, in most mammals, is the sensory system which is the main contributor for the sense of balance and spatial orientation. This serves the purpose of coordinating movement with balance. The vestibular system contains three semicircular canals in each labyrinth, generating three-dimensional sense. Perceptions through the vestibular system are very fast and can generate responses to maintain perceptual and postural stability. But yet compared to sensual perceptions like vision, touch and audition, the responses are little delayed.

Performing with mallakhamb India

Kinesthesis is the sense of the position and movement of body parts. Through Kinesthesis, people know where all the parts of their bodies are, how and which-way (direction) they are moving. Kinesthetic sense, provides the parietal cortex of the brain with information on the relative positions of the parts of the body. Receptors for Kinesthesis are located in the muscles, joints, and tendons.

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The sense of balance or equilibrium provides information about where the body exists in space. When the vestibular system gets stimulated, in absence of any other perceptions (like seeing, hearing or touching) we still experience the body movement. In space craft, engineers are checked for their sense of perceptivity of balance and equilibrium in darkness and near zero sound environments. We control speed of movement while going down a hill. The sense of going up or down on a clockwise or anti-clock-wise spiral stair is predictable, because we relate to all those experiences in some other references. ‘A person in complete darkness and sitting in a chair will feel that he or she has turned to the left if the chair is turned to the left’. Similarly, the sense of balance tells people ‘whether they are standing up, falling in an elevator, or riding a roller coaster’.

Tapper balancing act on coconut tree .

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POSTURES and BEHAVIOUR

Post 347 – by Gautam Shah

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Postures are very important tools of behaviour for task facilitation and intentional as well as unintentional expressions. Postures required for conducting tasks primarily provide change, relaxation, transition, exercise and reach. Postures for communication and interaction may gain from the spatial ambiance but depend on external amenities, facilities.

Interior of Lockheed EC-130J Commando Solo IIPostures have many variations within a basic theme or purpose. The variations are micro changes of the body that help in sensorial perceptions and manifestations. Postures have empathetic and confirming images for the society as these are closely linked to the local terrain, climate, environment. Postures directly and abstractly convey the state of interpersonal relationships, social standing, personality traits such as confidence, submissiveness, and openness, current emotional state and temperament. Certain body positions, patterns and movements suggest specific emotions, that are readable by the clan or group.

People in Union SquarePosturing is using own body, its limbs and sensorial nodes in coordinated manner vis-á-vis another individual, groups of persons, or the elements of the space. In case of social encounters one perceives the sensorial and bio-manifestations and accordingly improvises own responses. Space, environment and the objects are used as tools for posturing. One can also reshape the space, reformat the environment and rearrange the objects and thereby economize or avoid some degree of posturing.

Unintentional postural expression of behaviour Flirtation and Jealousy -postures

Posturing, is primarily for own well being, or sustenance of life. Secondly, it is to resist or follow the gravity, by exploiting or overcoming its effects. Posturing is used for privacy and intimacy. Posturing helps one to control incursions by others into the personal domain of behaviour, as much as it allows one to project a participating personality.

White HouseA person takes on postures with several intents. First purpose is to gain and maintain it. Gaining a posture is to transit over from some other posture, and maintenance is readiness to change over to another one. It also includes the scope of micro posturing for blood circulation, muscle relaxation, fluid balancing, making gestures, and micro tuning the reach and handling capacities.

8071401471_2a6df3c1a4_zPostures are axially balanced or skewed. Balanced postures are mirror-image (congruent) postures, such as equally posed two feet, two hands, etc., or are normal ones like the frontal face, upright torso, erect neck, straight eye level, etc. Skewed postures reflect a readiness to transfer to another posture, due to shift in interest or boredom. Both, the balanced and skewed postures, cannot be maintained for a very long period. Good designs include other support systems. The supports are casual, subtle, imperceptible, or very obvious ones.

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Designers design for postures as important poses of behaviour sequences. Some flexibility within the postural poses is perceived or left to the individual to extemporize. A chair that is slightly wider or lower, a bar stool with a foot support ring, a seat with multi flexural (revolving, tilting, rotating) adjustability, TV or monitor swiveling stands are some of the examples that allow flexibility. Office executive chairs allow great many postures, due to the width of the seat, height of the seat, height of the handles from the seat, depth of the handles (elbow or arm accommodation), inclination of the back (tilting), height of the back (mid spine, shoulder support, neck and head support), swiveling, etc. Other postural options are provided by the table top height from the ground and seat level of the chair, depth and width of the table, nature of foot rest, task being handled, mobility of the chair (depending on the quality of wheels and flooring surface), etc. The site and its environmental conditions also play their role, such as the chair close against a wall, against an open space, facing a barrier or an open area, the source of illumination and air handling devices, one sided or multi directional interaction, communication devices being used and duration of work.

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Similarly ordinary people need to exploit the situational conditions for behavioural setting. Where possible a person would choose an appropriate seat with reference to the host or other participants, own social status, own psychological make-up, presence or absence of intervening elements, angle, level and distance of the encounter, level of comfort and formality desired. Next strategy would be for macro or micro shifting of the seat. Where such devices are lightweight mobile, micro shifting for angular and distance adjustments are done, but such choices are usually limited. Other strategies will include body or postural accommodation, such as seating by fully drawing back or upright, leaning on, one of the arm rest rather then a balanced posture, keeping arms on armrest, lap or any other front side device, placing the legs under the seat, straight-up, seating with cross feet or leg, seating frontally but looking sideways.

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BODY POSTURE SYSTEMS

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To conduct various Tasks and to get relief from that chore we take certain body positions or postures. The posture could be sustained one or intermediate one to achieve a new posture. We often need help of a device, to achieve, maintain or terminate the posture. The devices or amenities for postures, make an activity, transition to or from it, or an interim relief, feasible, and efficient.

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The capacity of body, to take-on a posture, sustain it, and leave it, depends on many factors such as: Physiological structure, deformities, age related in-capacities, motor (movement-flexibility) potential and response time, etc. Body posture devices and amenities are primarily designed to make available maximum energy for the activity in appropriate form -direction and level. The efficiency of task operation is a direct function of the body posture achieved.

Gravity is the major force against which the body must achieve a particular position.  Hypothetically one may not need many of the body support systems, if the gravity were to be eliminated. In reality, however, one may still need support systems because the body has been genetically and physically conditioned with the presence of gravity. This is the reason why space astronauts sleep in standing position in no gravity zones and their module is rotated (spun) continually at slow speed.

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Supports help to maintain the body postures, and also facilitate some of the biological functions. The support and comfort have become synonymous concepts. Just as comfort is a situation-specific requirement, so are the support system.

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Support systems are very personalized. Every individual presents a unique combination of stature and body mass. It is difficult to draw a standard support system. Support systems are designed on percentile basis, trying to satisfy the largest section of people for a variegated set of tasks. It may not work effectively across cultures.

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Support systems ideal for posture initiation may not be efficient for continuing the posture, or for terminating (or transiting to another one) it. Posture support systems need to have micro variation facilities, to relieve tedium, to reset the pressure on body limbs (including blood and fluid vessels), and to allow sensorial and physical reach in various directions. A technically perfect support system may not be ever comfortable. Due to personal and in-explicit reasons some support systems are preferred to others or totally avoided.

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A support system must also function well when employed with the utility for the task. A chair is a seating device, but a writing chair or a counter chair also relates to the specific work surfaces. A hospital bed is a sleeping device but it is also a treatment device.

Same size-type seat –different postures

Posture devices are designed by checking out following points.

■ Do you need any one’s help to take or leave a particular posture?

■ Do you really need any device to take on, maintain or change over to another posture?

■ Which limb of the body is supported by such a device?

■ How long is it supported?

■ Is the device a substantial support system for the body, or partial system for a limb?

■Is the device also a functional tool, gadget, machine, plant or equipment?

■ Is the device also a tool, gadget, machine, or equipment for a particular type of sensual perception or communication?

■ Is the posture, device dependent?

■ Is the device, posture dependent?

■ Are the devices and postures dependent on something else?

■ Is the posture static (substantial period between start and end of a posture)?

■ Is the posture variable (a phase in a series of postures movement spectrum)?

■ Is the posture device assistive or resistive?

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