Load–displacement relationships of spinal motion segments are crucial factors in characterizing the stiffness of scoliotic spine models to mimic the spine responses to loads. Although nonlinear approach to approximation of the relationships can be superior to linear ones, little mention has been made to deriving personalized nonlinear load–displacement relationships in previous studies. A method is developed for nonlinear approximation of load–displacement relationships of spinal motion segments to assist characterizing in vivo the stiffness of spine models. We propose approximation by tangent functions and focus on rotational displacements in lateral direction. The tangent functions are characterized using lateral bending test. A multi-body model was characterized to 18 patients and utilized to simulate four spine positions; right bending, left bending, neutral, and traction. The same was done using linear functions to assess the performance of the proposed tangent function in comparison with the linear function. Root-mean-square error (RMSE) of the displacements estimated by the tangent functions was 44 % smaller than the linear functions. This shows the ability of our tangent function in approximation of the relationships for a range of infinitesimal to large displacements involved in the spine movement to the four positions. In addition, the models based on the tangent functions yielded 67, 55, and 39 % smaller RMSEs of Ferguson angles, locations of vertebrae, and orientations of vertebrae, respectively, implying better estimates of spine responses to loads. Overall, it can be concluded that our method for approximating load–displacement relationships of spinal motion segments can offer good estimates of scoliotic spine stiffness.
- Nonlinear load–displacement relationship
- Patient-specific multi-body model
- Spinal motion segment
- Spine stiffness