[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A finite element model was used to investigate the counter-intuitive experimental observation that some regions of the aponeuroses of a loaded and contracting muscle may shorten rather than undergo an expected lengthening. The model confirms the experimental findings and suggests that pennation angle plays a significant role in determining whether regions of the aponeuroses stretch or shorten. A smaller pennation angles (25 degrees ) was accompanied by aponeurosis lengthening whereas a larger pennation angle (47 degrees ) was accompanied by mixed strain effects depending upon location along the length of the aponeurosis. This can be explained by the Poisson effect during muscle contraction and a Mohr's circle analogy. Constant volume constraint requires that fiber cross sectional dimensions increase when a fiber shortens. The opposing influences of these two strains upon the aponeurosis combine in proportion to the pennation angle. Lower pennation angles emphasize the influence of fiber shortening upon the aponeurosis and thus favor aponeurosis compression, whereas higher pennation angles increase the influence of cross sectional changes and therefore favor aponeurosis stretch. The distance separating the aponeuroses was also found to depend upon pennation angle during simulated contractions. Smaller pennation angles favored increased aponeurosis separation larger pennation angles favored decreased separation. These findings caution that measures of the mechanical properties of aponeuroses in intact muscle may be affected by contributions from adjacent muscle fibers and that the influence of muscle fibers on aponeurosis strain will depend upon the fiber pennation angle.
Full-text · Article · Feb 2010 · Journal of Biomechanics
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Many of those who survive a stroke develop a gait disability known as stiff-knee gait (SKG). Characterized by reduced knee flexion angle during swing, people with SKG walk with poor energy efficiency and asymmetry due to the compensatory mechanisms required to clear the foot. Previous modeling studies have shown that knee flexion activity directly before the foot leaves the ground, and this should result in improved knee flexion angle during swing. The goal of this research is to physically test this hypothesis using robotic intervention. We developed a device that is capable of assisting knee flexion torque before swing but feels imperceptible (transparent) for the rest of the gait cycle. This device uses sheathed Bowden cable to control the deflection of a compliant torsional spring in a configuration known as a Series Elastic Remote Knee Actuator (SERKA). In this investigation, we describe the design and evaluation of SERKA, which includes a pilot experiment on stroke subjects. SERKA could supply a substantial torque (12 N· m) in less than 20 ms, with a maximum torque of 41 N·m. The device resisted knee flexion imperceptibly when desired, at less than 1 N·m rms torque during normal gait. With the remote location of the actuator, the user experiences a mass of only 1.2 kg on the knee. We found that the device was capable of increasing both peak knee flexion angle and velocity during gait in stroke subjects. Thus, the SERKA is a valid experimental device that selectively alters knee kinetics and kinematics in gait after stroke.
Full-text · Article · Jun 2009 · IEEE Transactions on Robotics
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Due to the well-described spring-mass dynamics of bouncing gaits, human hopping is a tractable model for elucidating basic neuromuscular compensation principles. We tested whether subjects would employ a multi-joint or single-joint response to stabilize leg stiffness while wearing a spring-loaded ankle-foot orthosis (AFO) that applied localized resistive and assistive torques to the ankle. We analyzed kinematics and kinetics data from nine subjects hopping in place on one leg, at three frequencies (2.2, 2.4, and 2.8Hz) and three orthosis conditions (freely articulating AFO, AFO with plantarflexion resistance, and AFO with plantarflexion assistance). Leg stiffness was invariant across AFO conditions, however, compensation strategy depended upon the nature of the applied load. Biological ankle stiffness increased in response to a resistive load at twice the rate that it decreased with an assitive load. Ankle adjustments alone fully compensated for an assistive load with no net change in combined (biological plus applied) total ankle stiffness (p > or =0.133). In contrast, a resistive load resulted in a 7.4-9.0% increase in total ankle stiffness across frequencies and a concomitant 10-15% increase in knee joint stiffness at each frequency (p< or =0.037). The increased knee joint stiffness in response to resistive ankle load allowed subjects to maintain a more flexed knee at mid-stance, which attenuated the effect of the increased total ankle joint stiffness to preserve leg stiffness and whole limb biomechanical performance. Our findings suggest humans maintain invariant leg stiffness in bouncing gaits through different intralimb compensation strategies that are specific to the nature of the joint loading.
Full-text · Article · Feb 2008 · Journal of Biomechanics