A three-dimensional (3-D) arm movement model is presented to simulate kinematic properties and muscle forces in reaching arm movements. Healthy subjects performed reaching movements repetitively either with or without a load in the hand. Joint coordinates were measured. Muscle moment arms, 3-D angular acceleration, and moment of inertias of arm segments were calculated to determine 3-D joint torques. Variances of hand position, arm configuration, and muscle activities were calculated. Ratios of movement variances observed in the two conditions (load versus without load) showed no differences for hand position and arm configuration variances. Virtual muscle force variances for all muscles except deltoid posterior and EMG variances for four muscles increased significantly by moving with the load. The greatly increased variances in muscle activity did not imply equally high increments in kinematic variances. We conclude that enhanced muscle cooperation through synergies helps to stabilize movement at the kinematic level when a load is added.
Robert Tibold is with the Faculty of Information Technology, Pazmany Peter Catholic University, Budapest, Hungary. Gabor Fazekas is with the National Institute for Medical Rehabilitation, Budapest, Hungary. Jozsef Laczko (Corresponding Author) is with the Faculty of Physical Education and Sport Sciences, Semmelweis University, Budapest, Hungary.