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J Biomech. 2010 Mar 22;43(5):945-52. doi: 10.1016/j.jbiomech.2009.10.048. Epub 2009 Dec 5.

Simultaneous prediction of muscle and contact forces in the knee during gait.

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Department of Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering, 231 MAE-A Building, PO Box 116250, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611-6250, USA.


Musculoskeletal models are currently the primary means for estimating in vivo muscle and contact forces in the knee during gait. These models typically couple a dynamic skeletal model with individual muscle models but rarely include articular contact models due to their high computational cost. This study evaluates a novel method for predicting muscle and contact forces simultaneously in the knee during gait. The method utilizes a 12 degree-of-freedom knee model (femur, tibia, and patella) combining muscle, articular contact, and dynamic skeletal models. Eight static optimization problems were formulated using two cost functions (one based on muscle activations and one based on contact forces) and four constraints sets (each composed of different combinations of inverse dynamic loads). The estimated muscle and contact forces were evaluated using in vivo tibial contact force data collected from a patient with a force-measuring knee implant. When the eight optimization problems were solved with added constraints to match the in vivo contact force measurements, root-mean-square errors in predicted contact forces were less than 10 N. Furthermore, muscle and patellar contact forces predicted by the two cost functions became more similar as more inverse dynamic loads were used as constraints. When the contact force constraints were removed, estimated medial contact forces were similar and lateral contact forces lower in magnitude compared to measured contact forces, with estimated muscle forces being sensitive and estimated patellar contact forces relatively insensitive to the choice of cost function and constraint set. These results suggest that optimization problem formulation coupled with knee model complexity can significantly affect predicted muscle and contact forces in the knee during gait. Further research using a complete lower limb model is needed to assess the importance of this finding to the muscle and contact force estimation process.

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