Real-Time Simulation of Three-Dimensional Shoulder Girdle and Arm Dynamics

Edward K Chadwick* (Corresponding Author), Dimitra Blana, Robert F Kirsch, Antonie J van den Bogert

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Citations (Scopus)


Electrical stimulation is a promising technology for the restoration of arm function in paralyzed individuals. Control of the paralyzed arm under electrical stimulation, however, is a challenging problem that requires advanced controllers and command interfaces for the user. A real-time model describing the complex dynamics of the arm would allow user-in-the-loop type experiments where the command interface and controller could be assessed. Real-time models of the arm previously described have not included the ability to model the independently controlled scapula and clavicle, limiting their utility for clinical applications of this nature. The goal of this study therefore was to evaluate the performance and mechanical behavior of a real-time, dynamic model of the arm and shoulder girdle. The model comprises seven segments linked by eleven degrees of freedom and actuated by 138 muscle elements. Polynomials were generated to describe the muscle lines of action to reduce computation time, and an implicit, first-order Rosenbrock formulation of the equations of motion was used to increase simulation step-size. The model simulated flexion of the arm faster than real time, simulation time being 92% of actual movement time on standard desktop hardware. Modeled maximum isometric torque values agreed well with values from the literature, showing that the model simulates the moment-generating behavior of a real human arm. The speed of the model enables experiments where the user controls the virtual arm and receives visual feedback in real time. The ability to optimize potential solutions in simulation greatly reduces the burden on the user during development.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1947-1956
Number of pages10
JournalIEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering
Issue number7
Early online date4 Mar 2014
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jul 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Biomechanics
  • forward dynamics
  • musculoskeletal modeling
  • shoulder


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