The variability of movement can be quantified using traditional tools like standard deviation and range, which gives us the amount of variability. We can also quantify patterns or fluctuations in our movements—the complexity of the movement. Are the patterns too predictable or too random? As we age, suffer from an injury or disease, we lose complexity in our movements.

The Human Movement Complexity Laboratory has studies in three major areas:

Quantifying Complexity

There are many tools that scientists use to quantify patterns and fluctuations in movement. Our work is focused on ensuring that these tools are valid and reliable. We have focused much of our work on the use of entropy. A recent review provides guidelines for consideration.

Coupling of Biorhythms

Different rhythms of the body are entrained, or coupled with one another. This is true for walking and breathing rhythms. In the past, we have studied how walking and breathing rhythm coupling is altered in persons with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Recently, we’ve broadened our focus and are exploring coupling of different biorhythms, coupling of signals captured through wearables, and the impact coupling may have on performance.

Aging and Resilience

We have always had an interest in functional outcomes as a person ages, especially with performing more than one task at a time. Or how disruptions to one’s walking or balance can alter their behavior. Our current work is focused on determining objective measures of resiliency, especially when confronted with a challenge to their movement.