Electromyography-driven musculoskeletal models with time-varying fatigue dynamics improve lumbosacral joint moments during lifting

Mohamed Irfan Mohamed Refai*, Alejandro Moya-Esteban, Massimo Sartori

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
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Muscle fatigue is prevalent across different aspects of daily life. Tracking muscle fatigue is useful to understand muscle overuse and possible risk of injury leading to musculoskeletal disorders. Current fatigue models are not suitable for real-world settings as they are either validated using simulations or non-functional tasks. Moreover, models that capture the changes to muscle activity due to fatigue either assume a linear relationship between muscle activity and muscle force or utilize a simple muscle model. Personalised electromygraphy (EMG)-driven musculoskeletal models (pEMS) offer person-specific approaches to model muscle and joint kinetics during a wide repertoire of daily life tasks. These models utilize EMG, thus capturing central fatigue-dependent changes in multi-muscle bio-electrical activity. However, the peripheral muscle force decay is missing in these models. Thus, we studied the influence of fatigue on a large scale pEMS of the trunk. Eleven healthy participants performed functional asymmetric lifting task. Average peak body-weight normalized lumbosacral moments (BW-LM) were estimated to be 2.55 ± 0.26 Nm/kg by reference inverse dynamics. After complete exhaustion of the lower back, the pEMS overestimated the peak BW-LM by 0.64 ± 0.37 Nm/kg. Then, we developed a time-varying muscle force decay model resulting in a time-varying pEMS (t-pEMS). This reduced the difference between BW-LM estimated by the t-pEMS and reference to 0.49 ± 0.14 Nm/kg. We also showed that five fatiguing contractions are sufficient to calibrate the t-pEMS. Thus, this study presents a person and muscle specific model to track fatigue during functional tasks.

Original languageEnglish
Article number111987
JournalJournal of biomechanics
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2024


  • UT-Hybrid-D
  • Electromyography-driven modelling
  • Muscle fatigue
  • Musculoskeletal model
  • Digital twin


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