Ton Van Den Bogert

11-19-1989, 02:44 AM

Dear BIOMCH-L readers,

In last week's posting, Herman Woltring raised

the question of how to define body segment axes and joint rotations.

This is indeed a fundamental problem in basic as well as applied

biomechanics, which can only be solved by some sort of standardization.

My own experience on this subject comes from 2-dimensional multibody

modelling, and (to a lesser extent) from clinically oriented 3D

kinematic analysis on horses.

1. Multibody models are commonly used for (inverse) dynamic analysis of

movement, using measured kinematics as input. Usually, these models

assume hinge or ball joints between the body segments. I think that

this is the reason why in these models the 'joint centers' are often

used to define the long axis (being one of the coordinate axes) of the

segment. This definition also slightly simplifies the equations of

motion. In 3D models a second axis must be defined somehow, usually the

lateromedial axis.

Kinematic data, obtained from landmarks placed at arbitrary points on

the segments, can be used for dynamic analysis if the positions of these

points with respect to the segmental axes are known. For my 2D work, I

obtained this information from radiographs showing the 'joint centers',

as well as the kinematical landmarks (marked by steel rings).

I think this method has a few serious drawbacks:

- It relies heavily on the assumption that joints have a fixed center of

rotation, and that these points can somehow be identified.

- For 3D applications, the definitions are not sufficiently strict, and

transformation of marker data to rigid body kinematic variables

depends on marker coordinates with respect to the segmental reference

frame. It is difficult to obtain this information.

Possibly it would be wiser to define standard segment axes with help of

three well-defined points on the outside of each bone. If these axes do

not coincide with the traditional anatomical axes, this will have to be

accepted.

2. For clinical applications, it is practically inevitable to use

segment axes based on external markers. For this reason, I tend to

prefer methods of kinematic analysis that give results that are (within

certain limits) independent of marker placement. This is the best way

to ensure that data obtained from different recording sessions or

different individuals can be compared safely. In fact, this seems to be

the way most software supplied with kinematic analysis systems works.

A typical analysis method is to put two markers (proximal and distal)

on each body segment, and make sure that during the recording the

walking direction is along one of the coordinate axes (e.g. the Y-axis)

of the laboratory reference frame. Joint angles are obtained from

projections of the 'stick diagrams' on the sagittal (YZ) and frontal

(XZ) planes. Incorrect marker placement will only produce a constant

error in the angles, and it is easy to extract parameters from the

signals that are insensitive to this.

Of course, the example given above does not provide data for all six

degrees of freedom (DOF) of the body segments. In my opinion, this loss

of information is not too serious for clinical applications because the

set of kinematic variables describing human movement is by no means

independent. A more practical reason for this 2x2D approach is, that a

complete 3D analysis of, for example, the femur requires a simultaneous

view of markers on the medial and lateral condyles. The system we are

currently using (CODA-3) does not allow this, you would need a video-

based system with many cameras.

Summarizing:

- For basic research (requiring full 3D kinematic data, 6 DOF per

body segment) standard segmental axes should be adopted, based on

the same palpable bone landmarks where the markers are attached.

- In clinical biomechanics, we should only measure those variables that

are reliable and reproducible. If a 3D analysis produces less reliable

results or requires too much effort, stick to a 2D (or 2x2D) approach.

These are my own personal opinions, and I would welcome further

discussion on BIOMCH-L about this subject.

Ton van den Bogert

Dept. of Veterinary Anatomy

University of Utrecht, The Netherlands.

In last week's posting, Herman Woltring raised

the question of how to define body segment axes and joint rotations.

This is indeed a fundamental problem in basic as well as applied

biomechanics, which can only be solved by some sort of standardization.

My own experience on this subject comes from 2-dimensional multibody

modelling, and (to a lesser extent) from clinically oriented 3D

kinematic analysis on horses.

1. Multibody models are commonly used for (inverse) dynamic analysis of

movement, using measured kinematics as input. Usually, these models

assume hinge or ball joints between the body segments. I think that

this is the reason why in these models the 'joint centers' are often

used to define the long axis (being one of the coordinate axes) of the

segment. This definition also slightly simplifies the equations of

motion. In 3D models a second axis must be defined somehow, usually the

lateromedial axis.

Kinematic data, obtained from landmarks placed at arbitrary points on

the segments, can be used for dynamic analysis if the positions of these

points with respect to the segmental axes are known. For my 2D work, I

obtained this information from radiographs showing the 'joint centers',

as well as the kinematical landmarks (marked by steel rings).

I think this method has a few serious drawbacks:

- It relies heavily on the assumption that joints have a fixed center of

rotation, and that these points can somehow be identified.

- For 3D applications, the definitions are not sufficiently strict, and

transformation of marker data to rigid body kinematic variables

depends on marker coordinates with respect to the segmental reference

frame. It is difficult to obtain this information.

Possibly it would be wiser to define standard segment axes with help of

three well-defined points on the outside of each bone. If these axes do

not coincide with the traditional anatomical axes, this will have to be

accepted.

2. For clinical applications, it is practically inevitable to use

segment axes based on external markers. For this reason, I tend to

prefer methods of kinematic analysis that give results that are (within

certain limits) independent of marker placement. This is the best way

to ensure that data obtained from different recording sessions or

different individuals can be compared safely. In fact, this seems to be

the way most software supplied with kinematic analysis systems works.

A typical analysis method is to put two markers (proximal and distal)

on each body segment, and make sure that during the recording the

walking direction is along one of the coordinate axes (e.g. the Y-axis)

of the laboratory reference frame. Joint angles are obtained from

projections of the 'stick diagrams' on the sagittal (YZ) and frontal

(XZ) planes. Incorrect marker placement will only produce a constant

error in the angles, and it is easy to extract parameters from the

signals that are insensitive to this.

Of course, the example given above does not provide data for all six

degrees of freedom (DOF) of the body segments. In my opinion, this loss

of information is not too serious for clinical applications because the

set of kinematic variables describing human movement is by no means

independent. A more practical reason for this 2x2D approach is, that a

complete 3D analysis of, for example, the femur requires a simultaneous

view of markers on the medial and lateral condyles. The system we are

currently using (CODA-3) does not allow this, you would need a video-

based system with many cameras.

Summarizing:

- For basic research (requiring full 3D kinematic data, 6 DOF per

body segment) standard segmental axes should be adopted, based on

the same palpable bone landmarks where the markers are attached.

- In clinical biomechanics, we should only measure those variables that

are reliable and reproducible. If a 3D analysis produces less reliable

results or requires too much effort, stick to a 2D (or 2x2D) approach.

These are my own personal opinions, and I would welcome further

discussion on BIOMCH-L about this subject.

Ton van den Bogert

Dept. of Veterinary Anatomy

University of Utrecht, The Netherlands.