This paper provides an overview of forward dynamic neuromusculoskeletal modeling. The aim of such models is to estimate or predict muscle forces, joint moments, and/or joint kinematics from neural signals. This is a four-step process. In the first step, muscle activation dynamics govern the transformation from the neural signal to a measure of muscle activation—a time varying parameter between 0 and 1. In the second step, muscle contraction dynamics characterize how muscle activations are transformed into muscle forces. The third step requires a model of the musculoskeletal geometry to transform muscle forces to joint moments. Finally, the equations of motion allow joint moments to be transformed into joint movements. Each step involves complex nonlinear relationships. The focus of this paper is on the details involved in the first two steps, since these are the most challenging to the biomechanician. The global process is then explained through applications to the study of predicting isometric elbow moments and dynamic knee kinetics.
Center for Biomedical Engineering Research, Dept. of Mechanical Engineering, University of Delaware, Newark, DE 19716
School of Human Movement and Exercise Science, University of Western Australia, Crawley, WA 6009, Australia.