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Research Group Computational Biomechanics 


The research of the group led by Lizeth Sloot aims to improve the theoretical and experimental tools used to understand motor and balance dysfunction in people with limited mobility. There is an increasing demand for assistive and rehabilitative devices as more people survive a stroke, live with chronic disorders or grow old and frail. These populations present with a wide range of motor problems, for instance, muscle weakness, impaired balance or disrupted control of motion. By developing more detailed assessments of movement and balance, we will be able to identify underlying impairments more accurately. This enables the development of individualized rehabilitative training and assistive technology, while the assessments can be translated into new diagnostic tools.

Due to the complexities of analysing human movement and balance, there is still much basic research to be done: the more detailed existing balance metrics have received limited testing; few motions outside of walking have been analysed; the actual base-of-support of the human foot has not been characterized; many clinical impairments have not yet been biomechanically analyzed; and the interaction with existing assistive devices has received little attention. In addition, we strive to systematically collect and share detailed motion and balance assessments of persons with limited movement ability.

More detailed information on our research can be found under Research. If you are interested in being part of this work or interested in participating in our research, look at our student projects or contact us!


  • 15/07/2022 Abstract on falls scenarios involving rollators with Prof Komisar from UBC Canada is accepted for the ESMAC conference in Sept
  • 03/07/2022 Our research by Michael Herzog (user-rollator interaction while standing up), Thomas Gerhardy (turning strategies in elderly), Tamaya van Criekinge (trunk motion over the life span) and Lizeth Sloot (dynamic gait balance with ageing) is presented at the ISPGR in Montreal
  • 12/06/2022 We are happy to welcome Elza van Duijnhoven as visiting PhD student from UMC Amsterdam
  • 07/05/2022 We are part of the Balance Tutor workshop at the Tagung der Bundesinitiative Sturzprävention in Heidelberg
  • 09/02/2022 We are interviewed by the RNZ about our project on dynamic balance in older persons
  • 14/01/2022 Please welcome Raquel who is joining our group for an Erasmus internship
  • 15/12/2021 We are happy to announce a new project on treadmill perturbation-based balance assessment in older persons (funded within the Elite Postdoc Program, by the state of Baden-Württemberg)
  • 09/11/2021 Lizeth was invited to give a keynote at the Society of Movement Analysis in the Lowlands (SMALLL) on dynamic balance during daily activities
  • 14/10/2021 We are presenting our work with Antwerp University on dynamic balance across the life span and trunk kinematics at the ESMAC
  • 13/10/2021 We are co-organizing a seminar on robots in gait rehabilitation at the ESMAC
  • 27/09/2021 Congrats to Eline Flux for publishing her paper on our joint work on treadmill perturbations to assess spasticity in JNER
  • 16/09/2021 We are co-organizing a seminar on technology to improve mobility in an advanced age at the Deutschen Gesellschaft für Gerontology (DGGG)
  • 29/07/2021 Lizeth was given “Promising Scientist Award” at the International Society of Biomechanics (ISB)
  • 27/07/2021 Congratulations to Frieder Krafft for presenting his work on rollator assistance at the ISB. We will also present our work on dynamic balance with ageing and modelling of the functional base of support
  • 01/01/2021 We are happy to announce a new project on rollator support on balance and motion (funded within the HEIKA Heidelberg Karlsruhe Strategic Partnership)
  • 25/10/2020 Congratulations to our collaborators from Antwerp University for being awarded the Best Paper award for our work on propulsion across the life span (ESMAC)
  • 09/11/2020 Congratulations to Francesco Missiroli for publishing his paper on myoelectric model-controlled exosuits
  • 15/10/2020 We are presenting our work on STS rollator assistance at the ICNR
  • 12/08/2020 We are happy to share that our paper on STS balance is accepted in Frontiers


 Dr. Lizeth Sloot 

Lizeth completed her PhD focused on validating technologies to assess motor dysfunction in children with cerebral palsy at the Rehabilitation Medicine Department of the VU University Amsterdam in 2016. Working together with patients and clinicians, she found her passion in applying movement analysis for rehabilitative purposes and worked on the application of dynamometry and an interactive gait lab to quantify neuromuscular impairments. Eager to go from identifying problems to restoring mobility in patients, Lizeth worked for three years with Prof. Walsh at Harvard University to investigate the rehab potential of soft exosuits to enhance ambulation in post-stroke patients. Arriving at Heidelberg University in 2019, she shifted her focus to studying the decline in motion and balance of the elderly across different daily movements. Since 2020 she is building her junior research group and expanding her research. For more information, see Research and Collaborators. Lizeth received the Promising Scientist Award from the International Society of Biomechanics (ISB) in 2021. Her research has been awarded three best paper awards (ESMAC, 2014; ICRA 218; ESMAC 2020). She has been awarded a collaborative grant (HEIKA, 2020), a postdoctoral fellowship (Ter Meulen, 2016) and is admitted with a grant to the Elite Postdoc Program by the state of Baden-Württemberg. Currently, she is the scientific lab manager of ZITI’s HCMR motion capture lab. Find out more about her research on GoogleScholar, ResearchGate or LinkedIn.

Biomechanics meetings in Heidelberg

We are trying to put biomechanics on the map in Heidelberg! We have regular meetings with partners on campus on the topic of “perturbed balance”, during which we discuss the different approaches to measure balance deficits and set up training protocols. In addition, we are in contact with all motion capture labs, small and large, across Heidelberg. Are you interested to join or present our meetings? Please contact us!

Group members

  • Nikita Sharma, PhD student on the EPP Project Perturbed Balance

Former members

  • Raquel José da Costa, visiting student on an Erasmus internship from Portugal
  • dr. Frieder Krafft, postdoc on HEIKA project
  • dr. Matt Millard, co-group leader and collaborator on the HeiAGE project

Research & Collaborators

Our research aims to improve the theoretical and experimental tools used to understand motor and balance dysfunction in people with limited mobility. For most people, being mobile is a given. We don’t realize how often we get out of a chair or how many steps we take to get through our days (unless you have a smartwatch). Through our research, we contribute to improving and maintaining mobility in different patient groups. For a list of publications, see ResearchGate or GoogleScholar.

HeiAGE: Assistance for older adults

With Prof Mombaur (Waterloo University) & Dr Millard (Stuttgart University)
Digital technology and intelligent assistive systems will become increasingly important for improving the mobility of older adults. The HeiAGE project brings together scientists from different disciplines, from sports sciences and medical technology to law and psychology, to develop new technologies and intelligent assistive devices that are tailored to the need of older persons. These devices range from a lower-body exoskeleton, hip exosuits, and an ageing simulation suit to an exergame-based balance platform. As we become older, movement becomes slower and less stable. To understand how we can design and improve effective assistance to target this degradation in mobility, we perform biomechanical motion and balance analysis in older adults of different frailty levels. Our studies cover a wide range of (understudied) daily activities, including walking, turning, standing up and sitting down. To assess balance during these movements, we are validating a promising method that allows us to evaluate complex whole-body motions and evaluate how off-balance someone is at any instant in time, including standing up, together with Matt Millard. Using this method, we plan to build an open-source database of whole-body motion as people respond to perturbations, build on existing clinical balance assessments and evaluate balance training regimes. This project is with Prof Katja Mombaur and is supported by the Carl-Zeiss Foundation.

HEIKA: Rollator support

With Prof Stein (KIT)
While rollators are often prescribed to older persons to support their walking, little is known about the effectiveness of these devices to improve balance or posture. In collaboration with Prof. Stein’s group, we use a unique in-house developed robotic rollator simulator to analyze the interaction between young persons and older adults on one hand and assistive devices on the other during different movements. As such, this research will accelerate the development of intelligent supportive devices specifically targeted to older adults' needs. This project is funded by a HEIKA grant.

Ageing of Walking

With Dr Hallemans (Antwerp University) & Dr van Criekinge (University in Leuven)
Together with Ann Hallemans and Tamaya van Criekinge, we investigate age-related changes in walking in a large set of adults from 20 to 89 years old previously collected at Antwerp University. The aim is to characterize the onset and process of ageing as well as the relation between muscle activation, balance, and movement. Our first paper shows how a decline in propulsion precedes changes in kinematics and has received the Best Paper Award (ESMAC, 2020).

EPP: Perturbed Balance

With Prof Becker & Dr Werner (Bethanien Krankenhaus)
The ability to maintain balance during everyday activities declines with age and results in a great deal of injury through falls. Many of these falls can be prevented by offering specialized training to those with a poor sense of balance. Unfortunately, many people with a poor sense of balance go unnoticed because balance assessments do not evaluate recovery from large perturbations. In this project, we use a Balance Tutor treadmill to perturb older persons in different directions. By recording full-body recovery motions we can characterize their balance deficits and thus their individual need for training. This project is executed with help of Christian Werner and the Bethanien Krankenhaus. We aim to expand this project by investigating different training paradigms for the intervention with Prof Simon Steib. The project is funded by the Elite Postdoc Program of the State of Baden-Württemberg.

Wearable Exosuit Support

With Prof. Masia (Heidelberg University)
Exosuits are lightweight, portable and garment-based alternatives to rigid exoskeletons. Prof. Masia develops with his Biorobotics and Medical Technology group lower-body as well as upper-body exosuit technology for both rehabilitative and ergonomic applications. We collaborate with Masia’s group to support the biomechanical evaluations of their developed technology. For instance, we’ve supported their work on an EMG-driven model-based controller to match a user’s intended motion with an upper-body exosuits


Different faculties from Heidelberg University and institutes from the region work together on the SmartAGE project. It focuses on ageing in a communical context and the application of self-regulating and co-regulating intelligent systems to support mobility in older persons. We are supporting the subprojects that are investigating the use of wearable exosuits for telerehabilitation and the assessment protocol for motor performance. This project is supported by the Carl-Zeiss Foundation.


With Dr van der Krogt (Amsterdam UMC)
Instrumented perturbation treadmills allow for the integration of new assessments within the current standard clinical gait analysis to identify a patient’s problems during walking. With scientists from Amsterdam UMC and Movement Sciences, including Marjolein van der Krogt en Sjoerd Bruijn, we have used treadmill perturbations to elicit calf muscle reflex activity to assess the level of spasticity in patients during movement (paper). And the potential doesn’t stop there, as such perturbations can also be used to assess balance problems, different belt speeds offer insight into motor adaptation to split-belt walking while virtual reality can provide functional feedback.

Student Projects

If you are interested in a Bachelor's or Master's thesis project in the area of biomechanics, assistive technology, medical sciences, computer science or data science in our group, have a look at the list of potential thesis projects below or on the website of HeiAGE. Get in touch with us to talk about other possible projects.

If you have a background in or are interested in acquiring experience in performing biomechanical measurements and data processing, there are opportunities for student assistant jobs (HiWi) in our group. Contact us if you are interested.

Potential projects

  • Smart automatic gap-filling algorithm of sensor trajectories to advance motion capture;
  • Validating IMU-based ambulant motion assessment vs. motion capture;
  • Using an instrumented chair and dual tasking for new insights into standing up motion;
  • The effect of ageing on the motion and balance during unstudied daily activities;
  • Robotic rollator and instrumented handles: novel adaptive rollator support during walking;
  • Dynamic Balance: benchmarking the different clinical and biomechanical measures;
  • Perturb persons to their edge of balance recovery: quantifying dynamic balance;
  • Developing a clinical test for dynamic balance using clinical and biomechanical tests;
  • Merging large datasets of elderly: comprehensive analysis of walking;
  • Turn around: movement and balance during turning in young and elderly; 

Past projects

  • An ageing suit to simulate deterioration of movement seen in elderly (BSc Applied Computer Sciences)
  • The effect of ageing on gait propulsion (BSc Applied Computer Sciences)
  • The effect of a safety harness system on the measurement of natural gait (BSc Applied Computer Sciences)

Doctoral candidates

To join the group, you need strong expertise in one of the areas: mathematics, optimization, biomechanics, kinesiology, or robotics, and be eager to learn more about the others. Funding for doctoral candidates is provided through funds of the group, external projects and individual stipends. We will support applications for individual stipends if the proposed project fits our research program. If we have open positions, they are posted below.

For additional information, read the university’s Information Brochure about Doctoral Studies or contact the university’s Graduate Academy for advice and services for doctoral candidates ranging from general information to travel and housing.


We perform most of our motion capture experiments generally in ZITI’s Heidelberg Center for Motion Research (HCMR). This is a fully equipped motion capture laboratory. It has various systems to conduct measurements of human motion and dynamics: a passive motion capture system and an ambulant IMU-sensor suit, force plates, and a wireless muscle activity measurement system. We also work with the available devices to support or perturb movement, including conventional and robotic rollators, and an XY-robot to simulate rollator support for instance. Lizeth is currently the scientific manager of the lab.

We also collaborate with Bethanien Krankenhaus and the Sports Science Institute (ISSW) at our university to perform perturbation studies on their Balance Tutor treadmills.

How to find us

You can find our group on the campus Neuenheimer Feld:

Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg
Institut für Technische Informatik (ZITI)
im Neuenheimer Feld 368 (room 521)
69120 Heidelberg
Tel: +49 6221 5416 342

Email: lizeth.sloot [at] ziti.uni-heidelberg.de


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