Adjustment of Muscle Mechanics Model Parameters to Simulate Dynamic Contractions in Older Adults

J Biomech Eng. 2003 Feb;125(1):70-7. doi: 10.1115/1.1531112.


The generation of muscle-actuated simulations that accurately represent the movement of old adults requires a model that accounts for changes in muscle properties that occur with aging. An objective of this study was to adjust the parameters of Hill-type musculo-tendon models to reflect nominal age-related changes in muscle mechanics that have been reported in the literature. A second objective was to determine whether using the parametric adjustments resulted in simulated dynamic ankle torque behavior similar to that seen in healthy old adults. The primary parameter adjustment involved decreasing maximum isometric muscle forces to account for the loss of muscle mass and specific strength with age. A review of the literature suggested the need for other modest adjustments that account for prolonged muscular deactivation, a reduction in maximum contraction velocity, greater passive muscle stiffness and increased normalized force capacity during lengthening contractions. With age-related changes incorporated, a musculo-tendon model was used to simulate isometric and isokinetic contractions of ankle plantarflexor and dorsiflexor muscles. The model predicted that ankle plantarflexion power output during 120 deg/s shortening contractions would be over 40% lower in old adults compared to healthy young adults. These power losses with age exceed the 30% loss in isometric strength assumed in the model but are comparable to 39-44% reductions in ankle power outputs measured in healthy old adults of approximately 70 years of age. Thus, accounting for age-related changes in muscle properties, other than decreased maximum isometric force, may be particularly important when simulating movements that require substantial power development.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Controlled Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over / physiology
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Ankle / physiology
  • Computer Simulation
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Isometric Contraction / physiology
  • Male
  • Models, Biological*
  • Muscle Contraction / physiology*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology*
  • Physical Exertion
  • Quality Control
  • Sex Factors
  • Torque