Scientific theme and general objectives

--- Please note that this page is currently being updated following the merger of the BIOMECA and SPM teams in 2023 ---

The «Health, Plasticity, Motility» team, joining researchers and clinicians experts in human movement analysis, takes its originality from the conjunction of fundamental and clinical expertise in children and adolescents sensory-motor behavior. This expertise leans on a movement analysis platform deployed both in the laboratory and in the Children Hospital.

Our goal is to better understand in healthy and pathological subjects the mechanisms underlying postural control, on one hand, and the interactions between posture and movement (especially gait), on the other hand. Our work is mainly based on behavioral investigations of moving individuals, by using indirect markers such as kinetics and kinematics analysis of motor coordination, electromyography of the muscles involved, analysis of the attentional cost of posture and/or movement control, imagery, or also electroencephalography.


SPM fig 1


Research topics

Posture-movement interactions

Posture and movement control are frequently investigated separately in laboratory tasks or through relatively simple clinical test. However, it is through the interaction between posture and movement, on one hand, and fundamental and clinical research, on the other hand, that the central nervous system (CNS) develops specific responses to control the complexity of healthy and pathological MOTOR behavior.

The functional coupling between processes for controlling posture and processes for controlling the movement is meaningful only if this coupling takes into account, in healthy or pathological subjects, the cerebral PLASTICITY linked to the sensory, motor and/or cognitive constraints applied to the system.

Finally, our goal is to further understand the fundamental processes underlying sensory-motor pathologies, in relation to children ontogenesis, and to contribute, from a HEALTH prospective, to the development and evaluation of innovative therapeutic solutions and biomedical devices.

Our work also opens a new line of research regarding the evolution of a given sensory-motor pathology with age and the therapeutics needs of the adults patients.
For example, a quick investigation of the international data bases shows more than 22 000 studies investigating cerebral palsy among which only 735 are dedicated to adult patients (3% of the studies). For scoliosis, more than 5 000 articles have been published among which 700 are focused on adult scoliosis (12% of the studies).

SPm fig 2

Ontogenesis of motor development in healthy and pathological subjects

The present knowledge regarding motor development shows that ontogenesis is a nonlinear process. Our main interest is focused on the anticipatory and/or preparatory control mechanisms ensured by the CNS and occurring before initiation of the postural and/or motor commands.

Two dimensions are mainly investigated.
The first one looks at the attentional cost and cognitive resources solicited during children development for postural and movement control. The second one regards cerebral palsy following pre or peri-natal cerebral lesions. Indeed, this pathology induces many postural and motor deficits against which we try to propose more adapted therapeutic responses.

SPm fig 3

Teenagers’ idiopathic scoliosis

Idiopathic scoliosis, which origin is multifactorial, represents one of the most frequent pathologies in teenagers. However, the actual therapeutic responses are not satisfying because of a limited efficacy. In addition, the real movements of the scoliotic spine during day life activities, without or with a corset, are scarcely known.

Our studies aim at developing new tools in order to better predict spine deformations, to improve surgery techniques, or to optimize the conception of the corsets and their effects on spine curvatures. These works also aim at developing innovative solutions for idiopathic scoliosis treatment by using new external corsets and/or dynamical « internal » corsets leaning on patients’ sensory-motor activity.


Team key points

Over the past four years, the team has shown a constant and significant activity of publication in top ranked journals of the field.

Over this period, more than 50 papers have been published in indexed journals and as many oral or poster communications have been presented in various international and national conferences.

During the period, 4 PhD dissertations have been defended and have given rise to indexed publications. In their respective fields of expertise, the permanent members of the team are well identified in the scientific community both at the national and international levels. They have regular connections and collaborations with different national and international laboratories, and strong connections with industrials through common research programs or exchanges of students.

The team also benefits from a technical platform of movement analysis deployed both in the laboratory and in the children hospital, but also allowing a great mobility outside this context.

Team members
Primary collaborations and grants
  • National Research Agency program: Technology Enhanced Learning Environment for Orthopaedic Surgery, 2007-2010.
  • ENVEHO funding for the development of clothes more adapted to children walk.
  • PHRC-IP for the recording of pressure variations at the interface between the stump and socket in above-knee amputees.
  • Crédit Impôt Recherche – Chabloz Orthopédie for the development of innovative corsets.