View Full Version : Visible Human dataset as a standard for biomechanical models?

07-11-2002, 06:26 AM

Although many of us involved in modeling of human biomechanics often
develop models of the 50th percentile male or female, each research
group's model is slightly different. The Visible Human Project has made
it possible to develop musculoskeletal models (e.g., [1]) from a single
set of image data. If models are created from these data, it seems to me
that it would facilitate the creation of standard human biomechanical

However, one potential problem with the Visible Male dataset is its
size. ( I haven't evaluated the Visible Female dataset yet). A
comparison with the 1988 US Army Anthropometric Survey [2], showed that
the Visible Male is 3% taller and 15% heavier than the 50th percentile
male. I personally am interested in the neck musculoskeletal system, and
found that certain external head and neck dimensions were 6-30% greater
than the 50th percentile male. Garner and Pandy measured arm muscle
volumes from Visible Male images that were more than 3 times greater
than in anatomical studies (which were primarily done in cadavers). Even
considering the difference between live human and cadaver muscles, the
Visible Male seems to be an extremely big, muscular guy. This would
likely mean larger estimated magnitudes of muscle forces and moment arms
compared to a 50th percentile male.

Despite these size issues, I still see value in developing models from
Visible Human data, for elucidating general principles of biomechanics
and motor control. While I'm not advocating use of the Visible Human
data as the *only* standard for biomechanical models, I would like to
hear people's opinions on its use. Is it reasonable to use the data as a
representation of the average male or female, or is size a problem? Do
people anticipate that its use will facilitate sharing of data? Do
people have any other comments or concerns about using the Visible Human
dataset for biomechanical studies? As always, I will post a summary of

Anita Vasavada


[1] Garner, B, and Pandy, M (2001). Computer Methods in Biomechanics and
Biomedical Engineering 4: 93-126.

[2] Gordon, CC, et al. (1989). 1988 anthropometric survey of U.S. army
personnel: methods and summary statistics.

Anita Vasavada, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Departments of Biological Systems Engineering and VCAPP
Programs in Bioengineering and Neuroscience
Washington State University
Pullman, WA 99164-6120
voice: (509) 335-7533
fax: (509) 335-4650

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