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Modeling Human Suboptimal Control: A Review

Alex Bersani, Giorgio Davico, and Marco Viceconti

This review paper provides an overview of the approaches to model neuromuscular control, focusing on methods to identify nonoptimal control strategies typical of populations with neuromuscular disorders or children. Where possible, the authors tightened the description of the methods to the mechanisms behind the underlying biomechanical and physiological rationale. They start by describing the first and most simplified approach, the reductionist approach, which splits the role of the nervous and musculoskeletal systems. Static optimization and dynamic optimization methods and electromyography-based approaches are summarized to highlight their limitations and understand (the need for) their developments over time. Then, the authors look at the more recent stochastic approach, introduced to explore the space of plausible neural solutions, thus implementing the uncontrolled manifold theory, according to which the central nervous system only controls specific motions and tasks to limit energy consumption while allowing for some degree of adaptability to perturbations. Finally, they explore the literature covering the explicit modeling of the coupling between the nervous system (acting as controller) and the musculoskeletal system (the actuator), which may be employed to overcome the split characterizing the reductionist approach.

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Open Foot Stance Reduces Lead Knee Joint Loading During Golf Swing

Hannah Stokes, Rafael Escamilla, Joseph Bellapianta, Hongsheng Wang, Tyson Beach, Dave Frost, and Naiquan Zheng

Foot stance and club type’s relationship with lead knee joint biomechanics and possible involvement with injury incidences in amateur golfers have not been evaluated. This study included 16 male right-handed amateur golfers who performed golf swings with 2 different foot stances (straight and open) using 4 different club types (driver, 3 iron, 6 iron, and 9 iron) while standing on 2 force plates in a motion capture laboratory. A custom program calculated the kinematics and kinetics of the lead knee. Overall, the open stance reduced most translations, rotations, forces, and torques of the lead knee in all 4 club types when compared with the straight stance. The open stance reduced the rotation motion (−28%), compressive force (−5%), and rotation torque (−9%) when compared with the straight stance, which are the highest contributors to grinding of cartilage. The driver club had significantly larger values in most translations, rotations, forces, and torques when compared among the 4 club types. The open stance reduced the rotation motion, compressive force, and rotation torque in the lead knee joint compared with the straight stance. Lead knee joint biomechanics should be monitored to reduce injury in amateur golfers.

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A Digital Twin Framework for Precision Neuromusculoskeletal Health Care: Extension Upon Industrial Standards

David J. Saxby, Claudio Pizzolato, and Laura E. Diamond

There is a powerful global trend toward deeper integration of digital twins into modern life driven by Industry 4.0 and 5.0. Defense, agriculture, engineering, manufacturing, and urban planning sectors have thoroughly incorporated digital twins to great benefit across their respective product lifecycles. Despite clear benefits, a digital twin framework for health and medical sectors is yet to emerge. This paper proposes a digital twin framework for precision neuromusculoskeletal health care. We build upon the International Standards Organization framework for digital twins for manufacturing by presenting best available computational models within a digital twin framework for clinical application. We map a use case for modeling Achilles tendon mechanobiology, highlighting how current modeling practices align with our proposed digital twin framework. Similarly, we map a use case for advanced neurorehabilitation technology, highlighting the role of a digital twin in control of systems where human and machine are interfaced. Future work must now focus on creating an informatic representation to govern how digital data are passed to, from, and within the digital twin, as well as specific standards to declare which measurement systems and modeling methods are acceptable to move toward widespread use of the digital twin framework for precision neuromusculoskeletal health care.

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The Effect of the Nordic Hamstring Exercise on Muscle Activity: A Multichannel Electromyography Randomized Controlled Trial

Jozef J.M. Suskens, Huub Maas, Jaap H. van Dieën, Gino M.M.J. Kerkhoffs, Edwin A. Goedhart, Johannes L. Tol, and Gustaaf Reurink

The aim of this study was to evaluate the effect of a Nordic hamstring exercise intervention on biceps femoris long head, semitendinosus, and semimembranosus muscle’s activity and relative contributions through multichannel electromyography. Twenty-four injury-free male basketball players (mean age 20 [3] y) were randomly assigned to a 12-week intervention (n = 13) or control group (n = 11). The primary outcome measures were normalized muscle activity (percentage of maximal voluntary isometric contraction, %MVIC) and relative contribution of hamstring muscles over 12 weeks. No effects were found on any of the primary outcome measures. Between-group differences over 12 weeks were 2.7%MVIC (95% confidence interval 95% CI, −0.7 to 6.1) for the biceps femoris long head, 3.4%MVIC (95% CI, −1.4 to 8.2) for the semitendinosus, and 0.8%MVIC (95% CI, −3.0 to 4.6) for the semimembranosus, P = .366. Between-group differences over 12 weeks were 1.0% relative contribution (%con; 95% CI, −3.0 to 5.1) for the biceps femoris long head, 2.2% relative contribution (95% CI, −2.8 to 7.2) for the semitendinosus, and −3.3% relative contribution (95% CI, −6.4 to −0.1) for the semimembranosus P = .258. A positive value implies a higher value for the Nordic group. A Nordic hamstring exercise intervention did not affect the level of muscle activity and relative contribution of hamstring muscles in performance of the Nordic hamstring exercise.

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Predicting Gait Patterns of Children With Spasticity by Simulating Hyperreflexia

Kirsten Veerkamp, Christopher P. Carty, Niels F.J. Waterval, Thomas Geijtenbeek, Annemieke I. Buizer, David G. Lloyd, Jaap Harlaar, and Marjolein M. van der Krogt

Spasticity is a common impairment within pediatric neuromusculoskeletal disorders. How spasticity contributes to gait deviations is important for treatment selection. Our aim was to evaluate the pathophysiological mechanisms underlying gait deviations seen in children with spasticity, using predictive simulations. A cluster analysis was performed to extract distinct gait patterns from experimental gait data of 17 children with spasticity to be used as comparative validation data. A forward dynamic simulation framework was employed to predict gait with either velocity- or force-based hyperreflexia. This framework entailed a generic musculoskeletal model controlled by reflexes and supraspinal drive, governed by a multiobjective cost function. Hyperreflexia values were optimized to enable the simulated gait to best match experimental gait patterns. Three experimental gait patterns were extracted: (1) increased knee flexion, (2) increased ankle plantar flexion, and (3) increased knee flexion and ankle plantar flexion when compared with typical gait. Overall, velocity-based hyperreflexia outperformed force-based hyperreflexia. The first gait pattern could mostly be explained by rectus femoris and hamstrings velocity-based hyperreflexia, the second by gastrocnemius velocity-based hyperreflexia, and the third by gastrocnemius, soleus, and hamstrings velocity-based hyperreflexia. This study shows how velocity-based hyperreflexia from specific muscles contributes to different spastic gait patterns, which may help in providing targeted treatment.

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Volume 39 (2023): Issue 4 (Aug 2023)

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Preparing to Land: Hamstring Preactivation Is Higher in Females and Is Inhibited by Fatigue

David Alan Phillips, Bridgette Rae Buckalew, Bridget Keough, and Jacklyn Stephanie Alencewicz

The hamstring plays an important role in reducing loads born by the anterior cruciate ligament. As anterior cruciate ligament injuries occur rapidly after ground contact, how the hamstring is activated prior to landing can influence injury risk. The purpose was to determine sex-related differences in hamstring activation immediately before landing and the effect of fatigue on “preactivation.” Twenty-four participants (13 males and 11 females, age = 24.3 [6.5] y, mass = 72.2 [19.3] kg, height = 169 [9.7] cm) participated in this study. Participants completed a drop-vertical jump protocol before and after a lower body fatigue protocol. Hamstring electromyography (EMG) amplitude at 5 periods prior to landing, peak vertical ground reactions forces (in newtons/body weight), rate of loading (in body weight/second), and landing error scoring system were measured. Females had higher EMG amplitude before and after fatigue (P < .024), with decreased EMG amplitude for both sexes after fatigue (P = .025). There was no change on vertical ground reaction force, rate of loading, or landing error scoring system. Males and females demonstrated similar landing performance before and after fatigue but have different hamstring neuromuscular coordination strategies. The acute reduction in hamstring EMG amplitude following fatigue may increase loading on the anterior cruciate ligament.

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Effects of Resistance Training of Upper Limb and Trunk Muscles on Soccer Instep Kick Kinematics

Miguel Arcanjo de Assis, Thiago Ribeiro Teles Santos, Sergio Teixeira Fonseca, André Gustavo Pereira de Andrade, Priscila Albuquerque Araújo, Thales Rezende de Souza, Renan Alves Resende, and Juliana Melo Ocarino

The upper body and trunk muscles are crucial to perform soccer kicks. Resistance training targeting these muscles may modify the pattern adopted during kicking. This study aimed to investigate the effect of resistance training of the arm and anterior trunk muscles on instep kicking kinematics. Twenty-six male participants were randomly allocated into a training group or control group. The training group underwent resistance training of arm and trunk muscles and practiced the instep kick for 8 weeks. The control group only practiced kicking during the same period. The trunk, hip, and knee kinematics were assessed during the instep kick before and after the intervention. Kinematics were analyzed according to their data distribution with statistical parametric or nonparametric mapping. The effect of the training on the 1-repetition maximum test was analyzed using a repeated-measures multivariate analysis of variance. The training group showed greater hip extension after the training during the backswing phase (Hedge g effect size of 0.316–0.321) and increased 1-repetition maximum for all exercises. There were no other differences. The present study documented the nonlocal effect of strengthening training in which arm and trunk muscle training resulted in changes in hip kinematics during the backswing phase of the instep kick.

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Influence of Surface Geometry on Palm and Fist Contact Pressure Distribution During Strikes With the Hand in Automotive Assembly

Lukas Hausmanninger, Igor Komnik, Mario Fleiter, and Wolfgang Potthast

The increase in repetitive strain injuries to the hand underscores the need for assessing and preventing musculoskeletal overuse associated with hand-intensive tasks. This study investigates the risk of overload injuries in soft tissue structures of the hand by analyzing the pressure distribution and location of peak pressure in the hand during snap-fit connection assembly in the automotive industry. The influence of the surface geometry of automotive trim components the pressure distribution and force imparted during strikes with the palm and the fist are investigated in a cohort of 30 subjects with extensive experience installing trim parts with snap-fit connections. Using the palm or fist (ulnar hand side) of the dominant hand, the subjects struck a simulation device with a flat, rounded, or edged surface geometry. The average peak force applied was 600 N (±122 N), nearly 3 times the force required to overcome the technical resistance of the snap-fit connector (220 N). Fist strikes exerted a 40% higher mean peak pressure and 18% higher mean pressure than did palm strikes. The pressure distribution in the region of the thenar eminence and soft tissue of the ulnar side of the hand did not differ between fist strikes on flat and edged surfaces. Considering the delicate anatomy of the hand, especially the hypothenar muscles on the ulnar side, assembling connection claps using the fist instead of the palm may prevent repetitive blunt trauma to the sensitive blood vessels and nerves in the palm.

Open access

Running-Related Achilles Tendon Injury: A Prospective Biomechanical Study in Recreational Runners

Jiri Skypala, Joseph Hamill, Michal Sebera, Steriani Elavsky, Andrea Monte, and Daniel Jandacka

There are relatively few running studies that have attempted to prospectively identify biomechanical risk factors associated with Achilles tendon (AT) injuries. Therefore, the aim was to prospectively determine potential running biomechanical risk factors associated with the development of AT injuries in recreational, healthy runners. At study entry, 108 participants completed a set of questionnaires. They underwent an analysis of their running biomechanics at self-selected running speed. The incidence of AT running-related injuries (RRI) was assessed after 1-year using a weekly questionnaire standardized for RRI. Potential biomechanical risk factors for the development of AT RRI injury were identified using multivariable logistic regression. Of the 103 participants, 25% of the sample (15 males and 11 females) reported an AT RRI on the right lower limb during the 1-year evaluation period. A more flexed knee at initial contact (odds ratio = 1.146, P = .034) and at the midstance phase (odds ratio = 1.143, P = .037) were significant predictors for developing AT RRI. The results suggested that a 1-degree increase in knee flexion at initial contact and midstance was associated with a 15% increase in the risk of an AT RRI, thus causing a limitation of training or a stoppage of running in runners.