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This study had two purposes: to evaluate a new method for measuring segmental dimensions for determining body segment inertial parameters (BSIP), and to evaluate the changes in mass distribution within a limb as a consequence of muscular contraction. BSIP were calculated by obtaining surface data points of the body under investigation using a sonic digitizer, interpolating them into a regular grid, and then using Green’s theorem which relates surface to volume integrals. Four skilled operators measured a test object; the error was approximately 2.5% and repeatability was 1.4% (coefficient of variation) in the determination of BSIP. Six operators took repeat measures on human lower legs; coefficients of variation were typically around 5%, and 3% for the more skilled operators. Location of the center of mass of the lower leg was found to move up 1.7 cm proximally when the triceps surae muscles went from a relaxed state to causing plantar flexion. The force during an impact associated with such motion of the soft tissue of the lower leg was estimated to be up to 300 N. In summary, a new repeatable and accurate method for determining BSIP has been developed, and has been used to evaluate body segment mass redistribution due to muscular contraction.
Matthew T.G. Pain is with the Dept of Physical Education, Sports Science & Recreation Mgmt, Loughborough Univ, LE11 3TU, UK; John H. Challis is with the Biomechanics Lab, 39 Rec Bldg, Dept of Kinesiology, Penn State Univ, University Park, PA 16802-3408.