We have recently demonstrated in simulations and experiments that a proportional and derivative (PD) feedback controller can regulate the active ankle torque during quiet stance and stabilize the body despite a long sensory-motor time delay. The purpose of the present study was to: 1) model the active and passive ankle torque mechanisms and identify their contributions to the total ankle torque during standing and 2) investigate whether a neural-mechanical control scheme that implements the PD controller as the neural controller can successfully generate the total ankle torque as observed in healthy individuals during quiet stance. Fourteen young subjects were asked to stand still on a force platform to acquire data for model optimization and validation. During two trials of 30 s each, the fluctuation of the body angle, the electromyogram of the right soleus muscle, and the ankle torque were recorded. Using these data, the parameters of: 1) the active and passive torque mechanisms (Model I) and 2) the PD controller within the neural-mechanical control scheme (Model II) were optimized to achieve potential matching between the measured and predicted ankle torque. The performance of the two models was finally validated with a new set of data. Our results indicate that not only the passive, but also the active ankle torque mechanism contributes significantly to the total ankle torque and, hence, to body stabilization during quiet stance. In addition, we conclude that the proposed neural-mechanical control scheme successfully mimics the physiological control strategy during quiet stance and that a PD controller is a legitimate model for the strategy that the central nervous system applies to regulate the active ankle torque in spite of a long sensory-motor time delay.
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