To improve design and preclinical test scenarios of shoulder joint implants as well as computer-based musculoskeletal models, a precise knowledge of realistic loads acting in vivo is necessary. Such data are also helpful to optimize physiotherapy after joint replacement and fractures. This is the first study that presents forces and moments measured in vivo in the gleno-humeral joint of 6 patients during forward flexion and abduction of the straight arm. The peak forces and, even more, the maximum moments varied inter-individually to a considerable extent. Forces of up to 238%BW (percent of body weight) and moments up to 1.74%BWm were determined. For elevation angles of less than 90° the forces agreed with many previous model-based calculations. At higher elevation angles, however, the measured loads still rose in contrast to the analytical results. When the exercises were performed at a higher speed, the peak forces decreased. The force directions relative to the humerus remained quite constant throughout the whole motion. Large moments in the joint indicate that friction in shoulder implants is high if the glenoid is not replaced. A friction coefficient of 0.1-0.2 seems to be realistic in these cases.
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