Finite centroid and helical axis estimation from noisy landmark measurements in the study of human joint kinematics

J Biomech. 1985;18(5):379-89. doi: 10.1016/0021-9290(85)90293-3.


Recent work on joint kinematics indicates that the finite centroid (centre of rotation) and the finite helical axis (axis of rotation, screw axis, twist axis) are highly susceptible to measurement errors when they are experimentally determined from landmark position data. This paper presents an analytical model to describe these effects, under isotropic conditions for the measurement errors and for the spatial landmark distribution. It appears that the position and direction errors are inversely proportional to the rotation magnitude, and that they are much more error-prone than the relatively well-determined rotation and translation magnitudes. Furthermore, the direction and rotation magnitude errors are inversely proportional to the landmark distribution radius, and the position and translation magnitude errors are minimal if the mean position of the landmarks coincides with the centroid or helical axis. For the planar centroid, the use of rigid-body constraints results in considerable precision improvement relative to the classical, finite Reuleaux method for centroid reconstruction. These analytical results can be used to define suitable measurement configurations, and they are used in this paper to explain experimental results on Röntgenphotogrammetrically acquired in vitro wrist joint movement.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Humans
  • Joints / physiology*
  • Models, Biological
  • Movement*
  • Wrist Joint / physiology