We present a robust and computationally inexpensive method to estimate the lengths and three-dimensional moment arms for a large number of musculotendon actuators of the human lower limb. Using a musculoskeletal model of the lower extremity, a set of values was established for the length of each musculotendon actuator for different lower limb generalized coordinates (joint angles). A multidimensional spline function was then used to fit these data. Muscle moment arms were obtained by differentiating the musculotendon length spline function with respect to the generalized coordinate of interest. This new method was then compared to a previously used polynomial regression method. Compared to the polynomial regression method, the multidimensional spline method produced lower errors for estimating musculotendon lengths and moment arms throughout the whole generalized coordinate workspace. The fitting accuracy was also less affected by the number of dependent degrees of freedom and by the amount of experimental data available. The spline method only required information on musculotendon lengths to estimate both musculotendon lengths and moment arms, thus relaxing data input requirements, whereas the polynomial regression requires different equations to be used for both musculotendon lengths and moment arms. Finally, we used the spline method in conjunction with an electromyography driven musculoskeletal model to estimate muscle forces under different contractile conditions, which showed that the method is suitable for the integration into large scale neuromusculoskeletal models.
- Musculoskeletal modeling
- Musculotendon length
- Muscle moment arm
- Muscle force
- Multidimensional spline interpolation