Assessment of trunk muscle activation and intervertebral load in adolescent idiopathic scoliosis by musculoskeletal modelling approach

Noemi Barba, Dominika Ignasiak, Tomaso Maria Tobia Villa, Fabio Galbusera, Tito Bassani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (AIS) is a three-dimensional deformity of the spine, the aetiology and pathogenesis of which are poorly understood. Unfortunately, biomechanical data describing trunk muscle activation and intervertebral load, which can contribute to understanding the pathomechanics of the AIS spine, cannot be measured in vivo due to the invasiveness of the procedures. The present study provides the biomechanical characterization of the spinal loads in scoliotic subjects by exploiting musculoskeletal modelling approach, allowing for calculating biomechanical measures in an assigned posture. A spine model with articulated ribcage previously developed in AnyBody software was applied. The predicted outcomes were evaluated in the upright posture, depending on scoliosis severity and curve type, in a population of 132 scoliotic subjects with mild, moderate, and severe scoliosis. Radiographic-based three dimensional reconstruction of vertebral orientations and scaling of body segments and trunk muscle cross-section area guaranteed geometrical subject-specificity. Validation analysis supporting the application of the model was performed. Trunk muscles were found more activated in the convex side of the scoliotic curve, in agreement with reference in vivo measurements, with progressive increase with scoliosis severity. The intervertebral lateral shear was found positively correlated with the severity of the scoliosis, demonstrating that the transferred load is not a priori orthogonal to vertebral endplate in the frontal plane, and thus questioning the assumption of the 'follower load' approach in case of experimental or computational study on the scoliotic spine. The study opens the way for the subject-specific characterization of scoliosis in assigned loading and motion conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)110154
JournalJournal of Biomechanics
Publication statusPublished - Jan 4 2021


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