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Primary Publication
Valente G, Pitto L, Testi D, Seth A, Delp SL, Stagni R, Viceconti M, Taddei F. Are subject-specific musculoskeletal models robust to the uncertainties in parameter identification? PLoS ONE 9(11): e112625. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0112625 (2014)  View

Subject-specific musculoskeletal modeling can be applied to study musculoskeletal disorders, allowing inclusion of personalized anatomy and properties. Independent of the tools used for model creation, there are unavoidable uncertainties associated with parameter identification, whose effect on model predictions is still not fully understood. The aim of the present study was to analyze the sensitivity of subject-specific model predictions (i.e., joint angles, joint moments, muscle and joint contact forces) during walking to the uncertainties in the identification of body landmark positions, maximum muscle tension and musculotendon geometry. To this aim, we created an MRI-based musculoskeletal model of the lower limbs, defined as a 7-segment, 10-degree-of-freedom articulated linkage, actuated by 84 musculotendon units. We then performed a Monte-Carlo probabilistic analysis perturbing model parameters according to their uncertainty, and solving a typical inverse dynamics and static optimization problem using 500 models that included the different sets of perturbed variable values. Model creation and gait simulations were performed by using freely available software that we developed to standardize the process of model creation, integrate with OpenSim and create probabilistic simulations of movement. The uncertainties in input variables had a moderate effect on model predictions, as muscle and joint contact forces showed maximum standard deviation of 0.3 times body-weight and maximum range of 2.1 times body-weight. In addition, the output variables significantly correlated with few input variables (up to 7 out of 312) across the gait cycle, including the geometry definition of larger muscles and the maximum muscle tension in limited gait portions. Although we found subject-specific models not markedly sensitive to parameter identification, researchers should be aware of the model precision in relation to the intended application. In fact, force predictions could be affected by an uncertainty in the same order of magnitude of its value, although this condition has low probability to occur.

Related Publications
Valente G, Crimi G, Vanella N, Schileo E, Taddei F. nmsBuilder: freeware to create subject-specific musculoskeletal models for OpenSim, Comput Methods Programs Biomed 152: 85-92 (2017)  View

Background and objective Musculoskeletal modeling and simulations of movement have been increasingly used in orthopedic and neurological scenarios, with increased attention to subject-specific applications. In general, musculoskeletal modeling applications have been facilitated by the development of dedicated software tools; however, subject-specific studies have been limited also by time-consuming modeling workflows and high skilled expertise required. In addition, no reference tools exist to standardize the process of musculoskeletal model creation and make it more efficient. Here we present a freely available software application, nmsBuilder 2.0, to create musculoskeletal models in the file format of OpenSim, a widely-used open-source platform for musculoskeletal modeling and simulation. nmsBuilder 2.0 is the result of a major refactoring of a previous implementation that moved a first step toward an efficient workflow for subject-specific model creation. Methods nmsBuilder includes a graphical user interface that provides access to all functionalities, based on a framework for computer-aided medicine written in C++. The operations implemented can be used in a workflow to create OpenSim musculoskeletal models from 3D surfaces. A first step includes data processing to create supporting objects necessary to create models, e.g. surfaces, anatomical landmarks, reference systems; and a second step includes the creation of OpenSim objects, e.g. bodies, joints, muscles, and the corresponding model. Results We present a case study using nmsBuilder 2.0: the creation of an MRI-based musculoskeletal model of the lower limb. The model included four rigid bodies, five degrees of freedom and 43 musculotendon actuators, and was created from 3D surfaces of the segmented images of a healthy subject through the modeling workflow implemented in the software application. Conclusions We have presented nmsBuilder 2.0 for the creation of musculoskeletal OpenSim models from image-based data, and made it freely available via This application provides an efficient workflow for model creation and helps standardize the process. We hope this would help promote personalized applications in musculoskeletal biomechanics, including larger sample size studies, and might also represent a basis for future developments for specific applications.