Muscle forces analysis in the shoulder mechanism during wheelchair propulsion

Hwai Ting Lin, Fong Chin Su, Hong Wen Wu, Kai Nan An

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


This study combines an ergometric wheelchair, a six-camera video motion capture system and a prototype computer graphics based musculoskeletal model (CGMM) to predict shoulder joint loading, muscle contraction force per muscle and the sequence of muscular actions during wheelchair propulsion, and also to provide an animated computer graphics model of the relative interactions. Five healthy male subjects with no history of upper extremity injury participated. A conventional manual wheelchair was equipped with a six-component load cell to collect three-dimensional forces and moments experienced by the wheel, allowing real-time measurement of hand/rim force applied by subjects during normal wheelchair operation. An ExpertVision™ six-camera video motion capture system collected trajectory data of markers attached on anatomical positions. The CGMM was used to simulate and animate muscle action by using an optimization technique combining observed muscular motions with physiological constraints to estimate muscle contraction forces during wheelchair propulsion. The CGMM provides results that satisfactorily match the predictions of previous work, disregarding minor differences which presumably result from differing experimental conditions, measurement technologies and subjects. Specifically, the CGMM shows that the supraspinatus, infraspinatus, anterior deltoid, pectoralis major and biceps long head are the prime movers during the propulsion phase. The middle and posterior deltoid and supraspinatus muscles are responsible for arm return during the recovery phase. CGMM modelling shows that the rotator cuff and pectoralis major play an important role during wheelchair propulsion, confirming the known risk of injury for these muscles during wheelchair propulsion. The CGMM successfully transforms six-camera video motion capture data into a technically useful and visually interesting animated video model of the shoulder musculoskeletal system. The CGMM further yields accurate estimates of muscular forces during motion, indicating that this prototype modelling and analysis technique will aid in study, analysis and therapy of the mechanics and underlying pathomechanics involved in various musculoskeletal overuse syndromes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)213-221
Number of pages9
JournalProceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part H: Journal of Engineering in Medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2004


  • Computer modelling
  • Muscle loading
  • Physical rehabilitation therapy
  • Wheelchair propulsion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Mechanical Engineering


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