Clinical gait analysis usually describes joint kinematics using Euler angles, which depend on the sequence of rotation. Studies have shown that pelvic obliquity angles from the traditional tilt-obliquity-rotation (TOR) Euler angle sequence can deviate considerably from clinical expectations and have suggested that a rotation-obliquity-tilt (ROT) Euler angle sequence be used instead. We propose a simple alternate approach in which clinical joint angles are defined and exactly calculated in terms of Euler angles from any rotation sequence. Equations were derived to calculate clinical pelvic elevation, progression, and lean angles from TOR and ROT Euler angles. For the ROT Euler angles, obliquity was exactly the same as the clinical elevation angle, rotation was similar to the clinical progression angle, and tilt was similar to the clinical lean angle. Greater differences were observed for TOR. These results support previous findings that ROT is preferable to TOR for calculating pelvic Euler angles for clinical interpretation. However, we suggest that exact clinical angles can and should be obtained through a few extra calculations as demonstrated in this technical note.
Wren is with the Children’s Orthopaedic Center, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, and the Departments of Orthopaedics, Radiology, and Biomedical Engineering, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, and Mitiguy is with the Mechanical Engineering and Bioengineering Departments, Stanford University, Stanford, CA.