An improved OpenSim gait model with multiple degrees of freedom knee joint and knee ligaments

Comput Methods Biomech Biomed Engin. 2015 Aug;18(11):1217-1224. doi: 10.1080/10255842.2014.889689. Epub 2014 Mar 11.


Musculoskeletal models are widely used to investigate joint kinematics and predict muscle force during gait. However, the knee is usually simplified as a one degree of freedom joint and knee ligaments are neglected. The aim of this study was to develop an OpenSim gait model with enhanced knee structures. The knee joint in this study included three rotations and three translations. The three knee rotations and mediolateral translation were independent, with proximodistal and anteroposterior translations occurring as a function of knee flexion/extension. Ten elastic elements described the geometrical and mechanical properties of the anterior and posterior cruciate ligaments (ACL and PCL), and the medial and lateral collateral ligaments (MCL and LCL). The three independent knee rotations were evaluated using OpenSim to observe ligament function. The results showed that the anterior and posterior bundles of ACL and PCL (aACL, pACL and aPCL, pPCL) intersected during knee flexion. The aACL and pACL mainly provided force during knee flexion and adduction, respectively. The aPCL was slack throughout the range of three knee rotations; however, the pPCL was utilised for knee abduction and internal rotation. The LCL was employed for knee adduction and rotation, but was slack beyond 20° of knee flexion. The MCL bundles were mainly used during knee adduction and external rotation. All these results suggest that the functions of knee ligaments in this model approximated the behaviour of the physical knee and the enhanced knee structures can improve the ability to investigate knee joint biomechanics during various gait activities.

Keywords: gait model; knee joint; knee ligaments.