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The Mechanics of Perturbed Upper Limb Movement Control

[+] Author Affiliations
Kai Chen, Richard A. Foulds

New Jersey Institute of Technology, Newark, NJ

Paper No. IMECE2010-37201, pp. 475-481; 7 pages
  • ASME 2010 International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition
  • Volume 2: Biomedical and Biotechnology Engineering
  • Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, November 12–18, 2010
  • Conference Sponsors: ASME
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-4426-7
  • Copyright © 2010 by ASME


The dependence of muscle force on muscle length gives rise to a “spring - like” behavior which has been shown to play an important role during movement. This study extended this concept and incorporated the influential factors of the mechanical behavior of the neural, muscular and skeletal system on the control of elbow movement. A significant question in motor control is determining how information about movement is used to modify control signals to achieve desired performance. One theory proposed and supported by Feldman et. is the equilibrium point hypothesis (EPH). In it the central nervous system (CNS) reacts to movement as a shift of the limb’s equilibrium posture. The EPH drastically simplified the requisite computations for multi-joint movements and mechanical interactions with complex dynamic objects in the context. Because the neuromuscular system is spring-like, the instantaneous difference between the arm’s actual position and the equilibrium position specified by the neural activity can generate the requisite torques, avoiding the complex “inverse dynamic” of computing the torques at the joints. Moreover, this instantaneous difference serves as a potential source of movement control related to limb dynamics and associated movement-dependent torques when perturbations are added. In this paper, we have used an EPH model to examine changes to control signals for arm movements in the context of adding perturbations in format of forces or torques. The mechanical properties and reflex actions of muscles crossing the elbow joint were examined during a planned 1 radian voluntary elbow flexion movement. Brief unexpected torque/force pulses of identical magnitude and time duration (4.5 N flexion switching to 50 N extension within 120ms) were introduced at various points of a movement in randomly selected trials. Single perturbation was implemented in different trials during early, mid, stages of the movement by pre-programmed 6DOF robotic arm (MOOG FCS HapticMaster). Changes in movement trajectory induced by a torque/ force perturbation determined over the first 120 ms by a position prediction formulation, and then a modified and optimization K-B-I (stiffness-damping-inertia) model was fit to the responses for predicting both non-perturbed and perturbed movement of elbow. The stiffness and damping coefficients estimate during voluntary movements were compared to values recorded of different subjects during trials. A least square nonlinear optimization model was designed to help determine the optimized impedance a subject could generate, and the identified of adapted of K-B-I in perturbed upper limb movements confirmed our assumption.

Copyright © 2010 by ASME



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