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J Biomech. 1990;23(12):1185-98.

An optimal control model for maximum-height human jumping.

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Mechanical Engineering Department, Stanford University, CA 94305-4201.


To understand how intermuscular control, inertial interactions among body segments, and musculotendon dynamics coordinate human movement, we have chosen to study maximum-height jumping. Because this activity presents a relatively unambiguous performance criterion, it fits well into the framework of optimal control theory. The human body is modeled as a four-segment, planar, articulated linkage, with adjacent links joined together by frictionless revolutes. Driving the skeletal system are eight musculotendon actuators, each muscle modeled as a three-element, lumped-parameter entity, in series with tendon. Tendon is assumed to be elastic, and its properties are defined by a stress-strain curve. The mechanical behavior of muscle is described by a Hill-type contractile element, including both series and parallel elasticity. Driving the musculotendon model is a first-order representation of excitation-contraction (activation) dynamics. The optimal control problem is to maximize the height reached by the center of mass of the body subject to body-segmental, musculotendon, and activation dynamics, a zero vertical ground reaction force at lift-off, and constraints which limit the magnitude of the incoming neural control signals to lie between zero (no excitation) and one (full excitation). A computational solution to this problem was found on the basis of a Mayne-Polak dynamic optimization algorithm. Qualitative comparisons between the predictions of the model and previously reported experimental findings indicate that the model reproduces the major features of a maximum-height squat jump (i.e. limb-segmental angular displacements, vertical and horizontal ground reaction forces, sequence of muscular activity, overall jump height, and final lift-off time).

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