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J Biomech. 1994 May;27(5):551-69.

A finite element musculoskeletal model of the shoulder mechanism.

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Department of Mechanical Engineering, Delft University of Technology, The Netherlands.


The finite element method described in this study provides an easy method to simulate the kinetics of multibody mechanisms. It is used in order to develop a musculoskeletal model of the shoulder mechanism. Each relevant morphological structure has been represented by an appropriate element. For the shoulder mechanism two special-purpose elements have been developed: a SURFACE element representing the scapulothoracic gliding plane and a CURVED-TRUSS element to represent muscles which are wrapped around bony contours. The model contains four bones, three joints, three extracapsular ligaments, the scapulothoracic gliding plane and 20 muscles and muscle parts. In the model, input variables are the positions of the shoulder girdle and humerus and the external load on the humerus. Output variables are muscles forces subject to an optimization procedure in which the mechanical stability of the glenohumeral joint is one of the constraints. Four different optimization criteria are compared. For 12 muscles, surface EMG is used to verify the model. Since the optimum muscle length and force-length relationship are unknown, and since maximal EMG amplitude is length dependent, verification is only possible in a qualitative sense. Nevertheless, it is concluded that a detailed model of the shoulder mechanism has been developed which provides good insight into the function of morphological structures.

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