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Author Notes:

Friedl De Groote, Tervuursevest 101 – bus 1501, 3001 Leuven, Belgium, friedl.degroote@kuleuven.be.

We wish to confirm that there are no known conflicts of interest associated with this publication and there has been no financial support for this work that could have influenced its outcome.


Research Funding:

We gratefully acknowledge the support of FWO-V430116N, NIH HD046922 and F32-NS087775.


  • Science & Technology
  • Life Sciences & Biomedicine
  • Technology
  • Biophysics
  • Engineering, Biomedical
  • Engineering
  • Posture
  • Muscle dynamics
  • Musculoskeletal modeling
  • Dynamic optimization
  • Forward simulations

Contribution of muscle short-range stiffness to initial changes in joint kinetics and kinematics during perturbations to standing balance: a simulation study


Journal Title:

Journal of Biomechanical Engineering


Volume 55


, Pages 71-77

Type of Work:

Article | Post-print: After Peer Review


Simulating realistic musculoskeletal dynamics is critical to understanding neural control of muscle activity evoked in sensorimotor feedback responses that have inherent neural transmission delays. Thus, the initial mechanical response of muscles to perturbations in the absence of any change in muscle activity determines which corrective neural responses are required to stabilize body posture. Muscle short-range stiffness, a history-dependent property of muscle that causes a rapid and transient rise in muscle force upon stretch, likely affects musculoskeletal dynamics in the initial mechanical response to perturbations. Here we identified the contributions of short-range stiffness to joint torques and angles in the initial mechanical response to support surface translations using dynamic simulation. We developed a dynamic model of muscle short-range stiffness to augment a Hill-type muscle model. Our simulations show that short-range stiffness can provide stability against external perturbations during the neuromechanical response delay. Assuming constant muscle activation during the initial mechanical response, including muscle short-range stiffness was necessary to account for the rapid rise in experimental sagittal plane knee and hip joint torques that occurs simultaneously with very small changes in joint angles and reduced root mean square errors between simulated and experimental torques by 56% and 47%, respectively. Moreover, forward simulations lacking short-range stiffness produced unreasonably large joint angle changes during the initial response. Using muscle models accounting for short-range stiffness along with other aspects of history-dependent muscle dynamics may be important to advance our ability to simulate inherently unstable human movements based on principles of neural control and biomechanics.

Copyright information:

© 2017 Elsevier Ltd

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