Effect of lower-limb joint models on subject-specific musculoskeletal models and simulations of daily motor activities

Giordano Valente, Lorenzo Pitto, Rita Stagni, Fulvia Taddei

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Understanding the validity of using musculoskeletal models is critical, making important to assess how model parameters affect predictions. In particular, assumptions on joint models can affect predictions from simulations of movement, and the identification of image-based joints is unavoidably affected by uncertainty that can decrease the benefits of increasing model complexity. We evaluated the effect of different lower-limb joint models on muscle and joint contact forces during four motor tasks, and assessed the sensitivity to the uncertainties in the identification of anatomical four-bar-linkage joints. Three MRI-based musculoskeletal models having different knee and ankle joint models were created and used for the purpose. Model predictions were compared against a baseline model including simpler and widely-adopted joints. In addition, a probabilistic analysis was performed by perturbing four-bar-linkage joint parameters according to their uncertainty. The differences between models depended on the motor task analyzed, and there could be marked differences at peak loading (up to 2.40 BW at the knee and 1.54 BW at the ankle), although they were rather small over the motor task cycles (up to 0.59 BW at the knee and 0.31 BW at the ankle). The model including more degrees of freedom showed more discrepancies in predicted muscle activations compared to measured muscle activity. Further, including image-based four-bar-linkages was robust to simulate walking, chair rise and stair ascent, but not stair descent (peak standard deviation of 2.66 BW), suggesting that joint model complexity should be set according to the imaging dataset available and the intended application, performing sensitivity analyses.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4198-4205
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Biomechanics
Issue number16
Publication statusPublished - Dec 16 2015


  • Four-bar-linkage
  • Joint contact forces
  • Lower-limb joint models
  • MRI
  • Subject-specific musculoskeletal modeling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Rehabilitation
  • Biophysics
  • Biomedical Engineering


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