ActiveStep | Perturbation Treadmill for Fall-Prevention and Research

 In Blog, News

When was the last time that you fell?

For me, it was last week. As I was walking through the snow, I hit a hidden patch of ice and took a quick, unexpected seat. I was fine. As I stood up and brushed myself off, my primary concern was if anyone had seen me. Many people are not as fortunate. The Center for Disease Control warns that falls are the most common cause of head injuries and hip fractures. Fall rates are increasing as the population ages, making fall prevention an important priority for healthcare, rehabilitation, and research.

Simbex designed and developed ActiveStep, an instrumented treadmill that uses rapid belt movements to challenge balance and practice avoiding falls. The ActiveStep perturbation training concept originated from over 25 years of NIH-funded research about the biomechanics of falls and fall prevention.

ActiveStep delivers multiple modes of perturbation training that mimic the motion of slips and trips. This training improves the ability to make a quick, strong, proportional response to the loss of balance. The good news is that balance recovery response is a skill that gets better with practice (the bad news is that the skill can be lost with disuse). Populations who are susceptible to falling, including the elderly and those recovering from illness or injury can particularly benefit from using ActiveStep for high-repetition, intensive training as a part of the therapy and rehabilitation process. The recently published results of the RACE study demonstrate ActiveStep’s effectiveness in reducing injurious fall rates in older adults.


ActiveStep is also used as a tool to study the mechanics of falls and fall prevention in research laboratories all over the country, including:

  • University of Illinois at Chicago
  • The Mayo Clinic
  • Central Michigan University
  • University of Maryland, Baltimore
  • University of North Carolina at Greensboro
  • University of Texas at El Paso
  • Georgia State University
  • University of Delaware
  • University of the Sciences in Philadelphia

More than a dozen scholarly articles have been published in the last two years by researchers using ActiveStep. A list of these publications can be found at the ActiveStep Website.

Angela Smalley is a Project Leader in Product Evaluation at Simbex. She has a PhD in rehabilitation science with a research emphasis in biomechanics and clinical background in sports medicine, orthotics and prosthetics.

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