Sensorimotor anatomy of gait, balance, and falls

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

80 Scopus citations


The review demonstrates that control of posture and locomotion is provided by systems across the caudal-to-rostral extent of the neuraxis. A common feature of the neuroanatomic organization of the postural and locomotor control systems is the presence of key nodes for convergent input of multisensory feedback in conjunction with efferent copies of the motor command. These nodes include the vestibular and reticular nuclei and interneurons in the intermediate zone of the spinal cord (Rexed's laminae VI–VIII). This organization provides both spatial and temporal coordination of the various goals of the system and ensures that the large repertoire of voluntary movements is appropriately coupled to either anticipatory or reactive postural adjustments that ensure stability and provide the framework to support the intended action. Redundancies in the system allow adaptation and compensation when sensory modalities are impaired. These alterations in behavior are learned through reward- and error-based learning processes implemented through basal ganglia and cerebellar pathways respectively. However, neurodegenerative processes or lesions of these systems can greatly compromise the capacity to sufficiently adapt and sometimes leads to maladaptive changes that impair movement control. When these impairments occur, the risk of falls can be significantly increased and interventions are required to reduce morbidity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationHandbook of Clinical Neurology
PublisherElsevier B.V.
Number of pages24
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018

Publication series

NameHandbook of Clinical Neurology
ISSN (Print)0072-9752
ISSN (Electronic)2212-4152

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Thank you to Dr. Sommer Amundsen Huffmaster for review of the manuscript and my mentor, Dr. William Tatton, who taught me the importance of “anatomy first.” Support for this work was provided, in part, by National Institutes of Health grants RO1 NS088697 and RO1 NS070264.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Elsevier B.V.


  • balance
  • gait
  • locomotion
  • neuroanatomy
  • posture


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