Investigations on the Biomechanics of the Human Trunk

M. Vanoncini, W. Holderbaum, and B.J. Andrews (UK)


Trunk biomechanics, FES control, model identification.


The study of the mechanics of the human spine and trunk is particularly challenging for the biomedical engineer, due to the complexity of the system considered. Several stud ies have already proposed models of the trunk, following different approaches and focusing on different aspects of the problem: kinematics, dynamics, muscle control strate gies and so on. The present study is the first step towards the development of a controller for the stimulation of the back muscles in paraplegic subjects: for this application, the models previously developed are too complex. There fore, a simpler model and a procedure to identify its param eters are proposed. The model consists of a single, planar inverted pendulum and a single actuator to represent the action of all the muscles involved in the extension of the trunk. The identification procedure involves measuring the moment exerted by the trunk, with and without artificial activation of the muscles (FES, Functional Electrical Stim ulation). The procedure was used to identify the parameters of the model for one paraplegic subject.

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