Computer modeling and simulation of human movement

Annu Rev Biomed Eng. 2001;3:245-73. doi: 10.1146/annurev.bioeng.3.1.245.


Recent interest in using modeling and simulation to study movement is driven by the belief that this approach can provide insight into how the nervous system and muscles interact to produce coordinated motion of the body parts. With the computational resources available today, large-scale models of the body can be used to produce realistic simulations of movement that are an order of magnitude more complex than those produced just 10 years ago. This chapter reviews how the structure of the neuromusculoskeletal system is commonly represented in a multijoint model of movement, how modeling may be combined with optimization theory to simulate the dynamics of a motor task, and how model output can be analyzed to describe and explain muscle function. Some results obtained from simulations of jumping, pedaling, and walking are also reviewed to illustrate the approach.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bone and Bones / physiology
  • Computer Simulation*
  • Humans
  • Models, Biological
  • Motor Activity / physiology*
  • Movement / physiology*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology*
  • Tendons / physiology*