Kinematic models of lower limb joints for musculo-skeletal modelling and optimization in gait analysis.

Alberto Leardini, Claudio Belvedere, F Nardini, Nicola Sancisi, M conconi, V. Parenti-Castelli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Kinematic models of lower limb joints have several potential applications in musculoskeletal modelling of the locomotion apparatus, including the reproduction of the natural joint motion. These models have recently revealed their value also for in vivo motion analysis experiments, where the soft-tissue artefact is a critical known problem. This arises at the interface between the skin markers and the underlying bone, and can be reduced by defining multibody kinematic models of the lower limb and by running optimization processes aimed at obtaining estimates of position and orientation of relevant bones. With respect to standard methods based on the separate optimization of each single body segment, this technique makes it also possible to respect joint kinematic constraints. Whereas the hip joint is traditionally assumed as a 3 degrees of freedom ball and socket articulation, many previous studies have proposed a number of different kinematic models for the knee and ankle joints. Some of these are rigid, while others have compliant elements. Some models have clear anatomical correspondences and include real joint constraints; other models are more kinematically oriented, these being mainly aimed at reproducing joint kinematics. This paper provides a critical review of the kinematic models reported in literature for the major lower limb joints and used for the reduction of soft-tissue artefact. Advantages and disadvantages of these models are discussed, considering their anatomical significance, accuracy of predictions, computational costs, feasibility of personalization, and other features. Their use in the optimization process is also addressed, both in normal and pathological subjects.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)77-86
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Biomechanics
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - May 22 2017


  • Motion analysis
  • Multibody kinematic optimization models
  • Musculoskeletal modelling
  • Soft-tissue artefact


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