Decoding kinetic parameters of grasping movements from single unit activity in monkey motor cortex

Development of neuronal prosthetics, where neuronal activity is used to control artificial limbs, has so far relied on decoding kinematic parameters of movements, such as movement position or velocity. In addition to kinematic control, proper control of forces exerted by the prosthetic device is necessary for successful interaction with the environment. In our study, we analysed the possibility of classifying and decoding different grasp related forces during active grasping. Two macaque monkeys were trained to reach, grasp and pull an object in response to visual cues. Cues instructed the monkeys to grasp the object with one out of two grip types (precision or side grip) and pull the object with one of two different forces (0.5N or 2N). Monkeys obtained a food reward after successfully performing the instructed grip and pull. During the task execution, we recorded electrophysiological signals from the multielectrode arrays implanted intracortically in the hand and arm area of the monkey’s motor cortex. Six different parameters of the grip: four pressure forces on each side of the object, pull force on the object and the object displacement, were recorded simultaneously with the neuronal activity. Recorded neuronal activity was used to classify different grip types or loading forces, and to decode the continuous traces of different forces during the grip. Our results show that kinetic grip parameters can be decoded with high accuracy, thereby improving the feasibility of constructing fully functional anthropomorphic neuronal prosthesis that relies on kinetic (force) control.

Listed In: Biomechanical Engineering, Neuroscience

Multigenerational growth approach to incorporate residual stress in an intervertebral disc finite element model with validation in multi-axial loading

Residual stresses are known to exist in human intervertebral discs but have not been incorporated in finite element models. A multigeneration model was applied to the annulus fibrosus of the intervertebral disc to simulate residual stresses arising from growth and remodeling. The intervertebral disc shape and compressive creep were used to verify that the multigeneration approach generates realistic values of residual stress. The model was then validated by comparing its 6 degree-of-freedom mechanical response to experimental data. Human intervertebral discs were tested in a custom-built hexapod in all 6 degrees-of-freedom (lateral shear, anterior-posterior shear, torsion, bending, flexion, and compression). Incorporating residual stresses resulted in a finite element model which can predict 4 degrees-of-freedom while excluding residual stresses produces a finite element model that can only predict 2 degrees-of-freedom.
Listed In: Biomechanical Engineering, Biomechanics, Orthopedic Research

In Vivo MRI Quantification of Human Disc Compression and Flexion/Extension

Disc function is mechanical, and measures of disc mechanical function are important to address spine function, degenerative disc disease, and low back pain. In vivo measures of disc mechanical function are needed, however the current standard in disc imaging is to acquire a single static image and classify the disc’s appearance using qualitative integer scales for degree of degeneration. Current grading standards are acknowledged as insufficient to identify symptomatic discs for treatment. In addition, static T2 weighted MRI cannot provide mechanical function information – mechanics must be measured as the change following a load or deformation perturbation. Because the disc experiences significant compression and height loss throughout the day, and because flexion-extension postures are often associated with low back pain, these physiological mechanical perturbations have potential to be used to quantify disc mechanics in vivo. The objective of this study was to use MRI-based methods to quantify in vivo disc function by measuring changes in disc geometry and T2 relaxation time with diurnal changes and with controllable posture. Quantification of in vivo disc mechanics by using diurnal loading or prescribed posture changes has potential to improve our ability to identify, evaluate, and treat degenerative disc disease. Symptomatic discs may have aberrant mechanics; if so, in vivo measurements of mechanical function may, with continued development, facilitate diagnosis of pathological discs.
Listed In: Biomechanical Engineering

Measuring Soft Tissue Contributions to Elbow Joint Motion and Virtual Ligament Modelling An In-Vitro Study

Knowledge of ligamentous contributions to joint stability is essential to restore normal joint range of motion and functionality through reconstruction procedures. Although, there has been numerous studies on the pathomechanics of the elbow joint, there have been very few rigorous and systematic attempts to characterize the roles of soft tissues during clinically relevant motions. Five fresh frozen cadaveric elbows from three male subjects were used for this study. In-vitro simulations were performed using a VIVO six degree-of-freedom (6-DOF) joint motion simulator (AMTI, Watertown, MA) capable of virtually simulating the effects of soft tissue constraints (virtual ligaments). This study introduces a unique, hybrid experimental-computational technique for measuring and simulating the biomechanical contributions of ligaments to elbow joint kinematics and stability. In vitro testing of cadaveric joints is enhanced by the incorporation of fully parametric virtual ligaments, which are used in place of the native joint stabilizers to characterize the contribution of elbow ligaments during simple flexion-extension motions using the principle of superposition. our results demonstrate the importance of AMCL and RCL structures as primary stabilizers under valgus and varus loading respectively. Virtual ligaments demonstrate the ability to restore the VV stability of the joint in the absence of any soft tissues attached to the osseous structures. This demonstrates the effectiveness of “virtual” ligaments for in vitro testing of elbow joint biomechanics, with applications in pre-clinical assessment of elbow implants.
Listed In: Biomechanical Engineering, Biomechanics, Mechanical Engineering, Orthopedic Research

More Push from your Push-Off: Joint-Level Modifications to Modulate Propulsive Forces in Old Age

Even prior to walking slower, older adults walk with a diminished push-off – decreased propulsive forces (FP) accompanied by reduced ankle moment and power generation. The purpose of this study was to identify age-related differences in the joint-level modifications used to modulate FP generation during walking. We posit that there are two possibilities for older adults to enhance FP generation. First, older adults may increase ankle power generation and thereby alleviate compensatory demands at the hip. Alternatively, older adults may opt to exacerbate their distal to proximal redistribution by relying even more on the hip musculature. 10 healthy young adults and 16 healthy older adults participated in this study. Subjects walked at their preferred speed while watching a video monitor displaying their instantaneous FP while instructed to modify their FP to match target values representing normal and ±10% and ±20% of normal. For all trials, we estimated lower extremity joint kinematics and kinetics. During normal walking, older adults exerted smaller FP and ankle power than young adults. Enhancing FP via biofeedback alleviated mechanical power demands at the hip, without changes in ankle power. Further, older adults walked with increased FP without increasing their total positive joint work. Thus, given the same total requisite power generation, older adults got ‘more bang for their ankle power buck’ using biofeedback.
Listed In: Biomechanical Engineering, Biomechanics, Gait

Does Corrective Surgery in Femoroacetabular Impingement Improve Joint Kinematics During Squatting?

INTRODUCTION: Cam femoroacetabular impingement (FAI) is characterized by an osseous overgrowth on the femoral head-neck junction [1], leading to pain and limited range of motion (ROM) during daily life activities [2]. Corrective surgery is highly recommended and performed in order to reduce or eliminate pain and further development of osteoarthritis (OA). However, it is still unclear whether it would lead to improved functional mobility. The purpose was to compare kinematic variables of the operated limb between FAI patients when performing a squat task pre-surgery and at around 2-year follow-up. A secondary objective consisted of express the results in a biomechanical functional score to quantify the joint kinematics of FAI patients compared to healthy control (CTRL) participants. METHODS: Eleven male patients (7 arthroplasty: 34.6±8.1 years, 25.7±3.2 kg/m2; 4 open: 33.3±7.1 years, 24.9±1.9 kg/m2) and 21 CTRL (2F/19M, 33.4±6.7 years, 25.4±3.3 kg/m2) participants were recruited from the orthopaedic surgeon’s clinical practice. Patients were assigned to either an arthroplasty or open FAI surgery correction. The participants signed prior to their participation a consent form approved by the hospital and university ethics board. Patients agreed to undergo motion analysis prior to and 2 years after the surgery. The CTRL were selected based on similar age and BMI as the FAI group and underwent the same motion analysis protocol. At the local hospital, CT scan was performed in all participants to confirm an alpha-angle higher than 55º and also establish their pelvic and knee bony landmarks. At the motion laboratory, the participants were outfitted with 45 reflective markers and performed a minimum of five trials of deep squat at a self-selected pace. Three-dimensional joint kinematics (200 Hz) of the lower limbs were captured using a ten-camera motion analysis system (Vicon, UK). Kinematics data were processed in Nexus 1.8.3 (Vicon, UK) using a modified Plug-In-Gait model and exported with a custom MATLAB script (Mathworks, USA) to calculate group averages and extract relevant variables. All trials were time-normalized based on a full squat cycle (descent and ascent phases) and individual averages for each participant were calculated across the trials. Four kinematic variables were included in the analysis: pelvis, hip, knee, and ankle sagittal angles. The normalized root-mean-square deviation (nRMSD) was calculated between the FAI and the CTRL groups for both pre- and post-surgery conditions, expressed by
Listed In: Biomechanical Engineering, Biomechanics, Orthopedic Research

An Assessment of a novel approach for determining the player kinematics in elite rugby union players

Rugby is intrinsically an impact sport which results in concussions being a frequent injury within the game. Repeated concussion is linked to early-onset dementia and depression, and the rules for limiting repeated concussion are an ongoing controversy. Therefore a greater understanding of the dynamics of head impacts in rugby and the mechanism of concussion is required. Accordingly, this study focuses on assessing the use of Model Based Image Matching (MBIM) and multi-camera view video for measuring six degree of freedom head kinematics during an impact event in rugby union. The matching is performed on video evidence using 3-D animation software Poser 4. The surroundings are built in the virtual environment based on the real dimensions of the sport field. A skeleton model is then used to fit the player’s anthropometry for each video frame thus allowing player kinematics to be measured. The results from this initial study suggest that the MBIM method can be applied to head impact cases in rugby union. The head kinematics results from this case are similar to those reported in literature. The MBIM method should be applied to a number of head impact cases to establish thresholds for concussion injuries in rugby. The data gained from the MBIM method can allow for more reliable kinematic data to be inputted into finite element analysis and rigid body simulations of concussion impacts. This can allow multi-axis force measurements to be measured within the brain and neck. This can ultimately lead to an improvement in concussion injury prevention and management.
Listed In: Biomechanical Engineering, Biomechanics, Mechanical Engineering, Sports Science


Objectives: The conventional push-up is a popular exercise used by the American College of Sports Medicine to test participant muscular endurance. Push-ups require changes in the ground reaction forces generated at each point of contact with the ground (all four extremities) which are achieved through muscular contractions. Although this exercise is common, the motor control mechanisms used in this motion are relatively unknown. We investigated whether humans adjust individual limb forces (push-up synergies) as they reached volitional fatigue and evaluated the hypothesis that muscular fatigue influences synergistic actions between the forces produced at the hand contact points. Approach: Twenty-one volunteers participated in a single motion capture trial where they performed as many push-ups as possible, stopping at self-determined failure. Push-ups were completed to a controlled three-beat rhythm (down, up, hold plank) at a rate of 24 repetitions per minute. Participants were instructed to arrange themselves in a plank position with each extremity within the bounds of an embedded force platform and analog data was collected at a frequency of 1000Hz. An index of synergy, defined as correlations between vertical forces, was calculated for every downward and upward motion within the push-up trial. Findings: Between-arm vertical forces were positively correlated during upward and downward motion. Positive correlation indicates that limbs worked together to produce increases or decreases needed for center of mass movement. Upward limb synergy significantly (p ≤ 0.00) decreased as participants neared volitional fatigue while downward limb synergy did not significantly change (p = 0.77). Conclusions: We found that muscular fatigue affected the synergistic actions between limbs in upward motion but not in downward motion. After muscular fatigue, between arm synergy was reduced only during concentric muscle contractions. Public Health Significance: Better understanding the synergistic changes produced by fatigue could be used to evaluate or better understand control changes behind pathologic gait or movement adaptations.
Listed In: Biomechanical Engineering, Biomechanics, Neuroscience

Bilateral assessment of cartilage with UTE-T2* quantitative MRI and associations with knee center of rotation following anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction

Purpose: Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tear greatly increases the risk of knee osteoarthritis (OA), even when patients undergo ACL reconstruction surgery (ACLR). Changes to walking kinematics following ACLR have been suggested to play a role in this degenerative path to post-traumatic OA by shifting the location of repetitive joint contact loads that occur during walking to regions of cartilage not conditioned for altered loads. Recent work has shown that changes to the average knee center of rotation during walking (KCOR) between 2 and 4 years after ACLR are associated with long term changes in patient reported outcomes at 8 years. Changes to KCOR result in changes to contact patterns between the femur and the tibial plateau. However, it is unknown if changes to this kinematic measure are reflected by changes to cartilage as early as 2 years after surgery. Ultrashort TE-enhanced T2* (UTE-T2*) mapping has been shown to be sensitive to subsurface changes occurring in deep articular cartilage early after ACL injury and over 2 years after ACLR that were not detectable by standard morphological MRI. Thus, the purpose of this study was to test the hypothesis that side to side differences in KCOR correlate with side to side differences in UTE-T2* quantitative MRI (qMRI) in the central weight bearing regions of the medial and lateral tibial plateaus at 2 years following ACLR. Methods: Thirty-five human participants (18F, Age: 33.8±10.5 yrs, BMI: 24.1±3.3) with a history of unilateral ACL reconstruction (2.19±0.22 yrs post-surgery) and no other history of serious lower limb injury received bilateral examinations on a 3T MRI scanner. UTE-T2* maps were calculated via mono-exponential fitting on a series of T2*-weighted MR images acquired at eight TEs (32μs -16 ms, non-uniform echo spacing) using a radial out 3D cones acquisition. All subjects completed bilateral gait analysis. Medial-lateral (ML) and anterior-posterior (AP) coordinates of average KCOR during stance of walking were calculated for both knees. Side to side differences in KCOR were tested for correlations with side to side differences in mean full thickness UTE-T2* quantitative values in the central weight bearing regions of the medial and lateral tibial plateau using Pearson correlation coefficients. Results: There was a distribution in UTE-T2* values, with some subjects having higher UTE-T2* and some lower in the ACLR knee relative to the contralateral knee. A significant correlation (R=0.407, p=0.015, Figure 1A) was observed between UTE-T2* and the ML KCOR with a more lateral KCOR corresponding to higher values of UTE-T2* for the medial tibia. Similarly, for the lateral tibia, a lower UTE-T2* was correlated with a more posterior KCOR (R=0.363, p=0.032, Figure 1B). Significant correlations were not observed for UTE-T2* in the lateral tibia with the ML position of KCOR or for UTE-T2* in the medial tibia with the AP position of KCOR. Conclusions: The results of this study support the hypothesis that side to side differences in mean full thickness UTE-T2* qMRI correlate with side to side differences in knee kinematics at 2 years after ACLR. The finding that a more lateral KCOR in the ACLR knee correlates with UTE T2* values in the medial tibia that were higher than the contralateral side suggests that this kinematic change, which has been previously shown to result in more relative motion between the femur and tibia in the medial compartment, could be affecting subsurface matrix integrity, inducing changes detectable by UTE-T2* mapping. Additionally, the finding that a more posterior KCOR in the ACLR knee correlated with UTE-T2* values in the lateral tibia that were lower than the contralateral knee further suggests that the UTE-T2* metric may reflect early changes in cartilage health. When interpreted within the context of prior work showing that a posterior shift in KCOR from 2 to 4 years post-surgery correlated with improved clinical outcomes at 8 years, the observed lower UTE-T2* with a more posterior KCOR, which is reflective of improved quadriceps recruitment, suggests positive cartilage matrix properties. In spite of the limitations of this cross-sectional and exploratory study, and the difficulty accounting for changes in the contralateral knee, these results support future studies of the relationship between UTE-T2* and KCOR to provide new insight into predicting the risk for OA after ACLR.
Listed In: Biomechanical Engineering, Biomechanics, Gait, Mechanical Engineering, Orthopedic Research, Sports Science

Effects of Total Knee Replacement Material Pairing on Implant Kinematics and Stability

Physical testing of TKR systems to assess stability is an important aspect in screening candidate TKR designs which can be expensive and time consuming. Costs can be reduced by utilizing 3D printed plastic components. The objective is to compare the kinematics and intrinsic constraint of metal-on-plastic (M-P) and plastic-on-plastic (P-P) implants under physiologically relevant loading, with and without simulated ligament contributions, in order to elucidate the effects of material pairings. A cruciate retaining TKR implant was created by combining a 3D printed ABS plastic tibial component with the standard cobalt chrome femoral component, as well as a 3D printed ABS plastic replica femoral component. This results in both M-P and P-P articulations that were mounted to a VIVO 6-DOF joint motion simulator (AMTI, Watertown, MA), which was used for in vitro constraint testing using functional laxity tests. Anterior-posterior (AP) and internal-external (IE) constraint was measured based on resulting deviations from the normal path when superimposed AP and IE loads were applied. Ligaments were simulated as tension-only point-to-point springs using the soft tissue modelling capabilities of the VIVO. Different kinematics were observed between the M-P and P-P implants which could be the result of different initial implant positioning on the joint motion simulator or due to “stiction” of the P-P implant. The functional laxity of the implant system tested appears to be relatively insensitive to the material pairing and ligament presence. These relationships are complex and hard to predict, which underscores the importance of pre-clinical in vitro testing.
Listed In: Biomechanical Engineering, Biomechanics, Gait, Mechanical Engineering, Orthopedic Research