Kalman smoothing improves the estimation of joint kinematics and kinetics in marker-based human gait analysis

J Biomech. 2008 Dec 5;41(16):3390-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jbiomech.2008.09.035. Epub 2008 Nov 20.


We developed a Kalman smoothing algorithm to improve estimates of joint kinematics from measured marker trajectories during motion analysis. Kalman smoothing estimates are based on complete marker trajectories. This is an improvement over other techniques, such as the global optimisation method (GOM), Kalman filtering, and local marker estimation (LME), where the estimate at each time instant is only based on part of the marker trajectories. We applied GOM, Kalman filtering, LME, and Kalman smoothing to marker trajectories from both simulated and experimental gait motion, to estimate the joint kinematics of a ten segment biomechanical model, with 21 degrees of freedom. Three simulated marker trajectories were studied: without errors, with instrumental errors, and with soft tissue artefacts (STA). Two modelling errors were studied: increased thigh length and hip centre dislocation. We calculated estimation errors from the known joint kinematics in the simulation study. Compared with other techniques, Kalman smoothing reduced the estimation errors for the joint positions, by more than 50% for the simulated marker trajectories without errors and with instrumental errors. Compared with GOM, Kalman smoothing reduced the estimation errors for the joint moments by more than 35%. Compared with Kalman filtering and LME, Kalman smoothing reduced the estimation errors for the joint accelerations by at least 50%. Our simulation results show that the use of Kalman smoothing substantially improves the estimates of joint kinematics and kinetics compared with previously proposed techniques (GOM, Kalman filtering, and LME) for both simulated, with and without modelling errors, and experimentally measured gait motion.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms*
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Computer Simulation
  • Gait / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Image Interpretation, Computer-Assisted / methods*
  • Joints / anatomy & histology*
  • Joints / physiology*
  • Kinetics
  • Locomotion / physiology*
  • Models, Biological*
  • Signal Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Whole Body Imaging / methods*