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Experimentally Induced Pain Results in Reduced Activity of the Rotator Cuff Muscles in Healthy Subjects

Jennifer L. Cooper and Andrew R. Karduna

Shoulder pain is a complex, prevalent problem that is multifactorial in nature. While there are many potential causes, one common suspect is the rotator cuff musculature. The purpose of the present study was to induce pain in the supraspinatus muscle of healthy subjects and observe the resulting changes in muscle activity. Eight muscles on 23 subjects were assessed using electromyography: anterior, middle, and posterior deltoid; pectoralis major; upper trapezius; latissimus dorsi; serratus anterior; supraspinatus; and infraspinatus. It was hypothesized that the rotator cuff muscles would display reduced activity during pain, and that reductions in activity would remain after the pain had dissipated. Both of the rotator cuff muscles measured did indeed display reduced activity in a majority of the dynamic, isometric, and maximal contractions. Many of those reductions remained after the pain had subsided.

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Commingling Effects of Anterior Load and Walking Surface on Dynamic Gait Stability in Young Adults

Caroline Simpkins, Jiyun Ahn, Rebekah Buehler, Rebecca Ban, Meredith Wells, and Feng Yang

Treadmill walking has been used as a surrogate for overground walking to examine how load carriage affects gait. The validity of using treadmill walking to investigate load carriage’s effects on stability has not been established. Thirty young adults were randomized into 3 front-loaded groups (group 1: 0%, 2: 10%, or 3: 20% of bodyweight). Participants carried their load during overground and treadmill walking. Dynamic gait stability (primary outcome) was determined for 2 gait events (touchdown and liftoff). Secondary variables included step length, gait speed, and trunk angle. Groups 1 and 2 demonstrated similar stability between walking surfaces. Group 3 was less stable during treadmill walking than overground (P ≤ .005). Besides trunk angle, all secondary outcomes were similar between groups (P > .272) but different between surfaces (P ≤ .001). The trunk angle at both events showed significant group- and surface-related differences (P ≤ .046). Results suggested that walking with an anterior load of up to 10% bodyweight causes comparable stability between surfaces. A 20% bodyweight front load could render participants less stable on the treadmill than overground. This indicates that anteriorly loaded treadmill walking may not be interchangeable with overground walking concerning stability for anterior loads of 20% bodyweight.

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Do Sex and Age Influence Scapular and Thoracohumeral Kinematics During a Functional Task Protocol?

Alexander Waslen, Kenzie B. Friesen, and Angelica E. Lang

There is mixed evidence on the role that biological sex plays in shoulder biomechanics despite known differences in musculoskeletal disorder prevalence between males and females. Additionally, advancing age may contribute to shoulder kinematic changes. The purpose of this study was to determine if sex and age influenced scapular and thoracohumeral kinematics during a range of functional tasks. Sixty healthy participants aged 19–63 years (30 males; 30 females) completed a functional task protocol while their upper limb motion was recorded. Scapular and humeral angles were calculated and compared with multiple linear regressions to assess the interaction effects of sex and age. Shoulder kinematics were not different between sex and age groups for many of the functional tasks. However, females had lower humeral external rotation in the overhead lift task (15°, P < .001), and less scapular anterior tilt angles in the forward transfer task (6°, P < .001) than males. Age was positively associated with humeral elevation (R 2 = .330, P < .001) and scapular rotation (R 2 = .299, P < .001) in the Wash Axilla task. There exist some kinematic differences between sex and with advancing age for select functional tasks, which should be considered for musculoskeletal disorder development.

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Increasing Breast Support is Associated With a Distal-to-Proximal Redistribution of Joint Negative Work During a Double-Limb Landing Task

Hailey B. Fong, Alexis K. Nelson, Deirdre McGhee, Kevin R. Ford, and Douglas W. Powell

Female athletes exhibit greater rates of anterior cruciate ligament injury compared with male athletes. Biomechanical factors are suggested to contribute to sex differences in injury rates. No previous investigation has evaluated the role of breast support on landing biomechanics. This study investigates the effect of breast support on joint negative work and joint contributions to total negative work during landing. Thirty-five female athletes performed 5 landing trials in 3 breast support conditions. Lower-extremity joint negative work and relative joint contributions to total negative work were calculated. Univariate analyses of variance were used to determine the effect of breast support on negative joint work values. Increasing levels of breast support were associated with lower ankle negative work (P < .001) and ankle relative contributions (P < .001) and increases in hip negative work (P = .008) and hip relative contributions (P < .001). No changes were observed in total negative work (P = .759), knee negative work (P = .059), or knee contributions to negative work (P = .094). These data demonstrate that the level of breast support affects lower-extremity biomechanics. The distal-to-proximal shift in negative joint work and relative joint contributions may be indicative of a more protective landing strategy for anterior cruciate ligament injuries.

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The History and Future of Neuromusculoskeletal Biomechanics

David G. Lloyd, Ilse Jonkers, Scott L. Delp, and Luca Modenese

The Executive Council of the International Society of Biomechanics has initiated and overseen the commemorations of the Society’s 50th Anniversary in 2023. This included multiple series of lectures at the ninth World Congress of Biomechanics in 2022 and XXIXth Congress of the International Society of Biomechanics in 2023, all linked to special issues of International Society of Biomechanics’ affiliated journals. This special issue of the Journal of Applied Biomechanics is dedicated to the biomechanics of the neuromusculoskeletal system. The reader is encouraged to explore this special issue which comprises 6 papers exploring the current state-of the-art, and future directions and roles for neuromusculoskeletal biomechanics. This editorial presents a very brief history of the science of the neuromusculoskeletal system’s 4 main components: the central nervous system, musculotendon units, the musculoskeletal system, and joints, and how they biomechanically integrate to enable an understanding of the generation and control of human movement. This also entails a quick exploration of contemporary neuromusculoskeletal biomechanics and its future with new fields of application.

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Tapping Into Skeletal Muscle Biomechanics for Design and Control of Lower Limb Exoskeletons: A Narrative Review

Zahra S. Mahdian, Huawei Wang, Mohamed Irfan Mohamed Refai, Guillaume Durandau, Massimo Sartori, and Mhairi K. MacLean

Lower limb exoskeletons and exosuits (“exos”) are traditionally designed with a strong focus on mechatronics and actuation, whereas the “human side” is often disregarded or minimally modeled. Muscle biomechanics principles and skeletal muscle response to robot-delivered loads should be incorporated in design/control of exos. In this narrative review, we summarize the advances in literature with respect to the fusion of muscle biomechanics and lower limb exoskeletons. We report methods to measure muscle biomechanics directly and indirectly and summarize the studies that have incorporated muscle measures for improved design and control of intuitive lower limb exos. Finally, we delve into articles that have studied how the human–exo interaction influences muscle biomechanics during locomotion. To support neurorehabilitation and facilitate everyday use of wearable assistive technologies, we believe that future studies should investigate and predict how exoskeleton assistance strategies would structurally remodel skeletal muscle over time. Real-time mapping of the neuromechanical origin and generation of muscle force resulting in joint torques should be combined with musculoskeletal models to address time-varying parameters such as adaptation to exos and fatigue. Development of smarter predictive controllers that steer rather than assist biological components could result in a synchronized human–machine system that optimizes the biological and electromechanical performance of the combined system.

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A Narrative Review of Personalized Musculoskeletal Modeling Using the Physiome and Musculoskeletal Atlas Projects

Justin Fernandez, Vickie Shim, Marco Schneider, Julie Choisne, Geoff Handsfield, Ted Yeung, Ju Zhang, Peter Hunter, and Thor Besier

In this narrative review, we explore developments in the field of computational musculoskeletal model personalization using the Physiome and Musculoskeletal Atlas Projects. Model geometry personalization; statistical shape modeling; and its impact on segmentation, classification, and model creation are explored. Examples include the trapeziometacarpal and tibiofemoral joints, Achilles tendon, gastrocnemius muscle, and pediatric lower limb bones. Finally, a more general approach to model personalization is discussed based on the idea of multiscale personalization called scaffolds.

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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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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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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.