Bio


Dr. Falisse is a postdoctoral fellow in Bioengineering working on computational approaches to study human movement disorders. He primarily uses optimization methods, biomechanical modeling, and data from various sources (wearables, videos, medical images) to get insights into movement abnormalities and design innovative treatments and rehabilitation protocols.

Dr. Falisse received his PhD from KU Leuven (Belgium) where he worked on modeling and simulating the locomotion of children with cerebral palsy. His research was supported by the Research Foundation Flanders (FWO) through a personal fellowship. Dr. Falisse received several awards for his PhD work, including the David Winter Young Investigator Award, the Andrzej J. Komor Young Investigator Award, the VPHi Thesis Award in In Silico Medicine, and the KU Leuven Research Council Award in Biomedical Sciences.

Honors & Awards


  • Best Doctoral Thesis Award: Runner-up, The European Society of Biomechanics (2020)
  • Best VPHi Thesis in In Silico Medicine Award, The Virtual Physiological Human (VPH) Institute (2020)
  • Research Council Award, KU Leuven (2020)
  • Andrzej J. Komor Award, The International Society of Biomechanics: Technical Group on Computer Simulation (2019)
  • David Winter Award, The International Society of Biomechanics (2019)

Professional Education


  • Ph.D., KU Leuven, Biomedical Sciences (2019)
  • M.S., UC Louvain, Biomedical Engineering (2014)
  • B.S., UC Louvain, Engineering Science (2012)

Lab Affiliations


All Publications


  • Perspective on musculoskeletal modelling and predictive simulations of human movement to assess the neuromechanics of gait. Proceedings. Biological sciences De Groote, F., Falisse, A. 2021; 288 (1946): 20202432

    Abstract

    Locomotion results from complex interactions between the central nervous system and the musculoskeletal system with its many degrees of freedom and muscles. Gaining insight into how the properties of each subsystem shape human gait is challenging as experimental methods to manipulate and assess isolated subsystems are limited. Simulations that predict movement patterns based on a mathematical model of the neuro-musculoskeletal system without relying on experimental data can reveal principles of locomotion by elucidating cause-effect relationships. New computational approaches have enabled the use of such predictive simulations with complex neuro-musculoskeletal models. Here, we review recent advances in predictive simulations of human movement and how those simulations have been used to deepen our knowledge about the neuromechanics of gait. In addition, we give a perspective on challenges towards using predictive simulations to gain new fundamental insight into motor control of gait, and to help design personalized treatments in patients with neurological disorders and assistive devices that improve gait performance. Such applications will require more detailed neuro-musculoskeletal models and simulation approaches that take uncertainty into account, tools to efficiently personalize those models, and validation studies to demonstrate the ability of simulations to predict gait in novel circumstances.

    View details for DOI 10.1098/rspb.2020.2432

    View details for PubMedID 33653141

  • Physics-Based Simulations to Predict the Differential Effects of Motor Control and Musculoskeletal Deficits on Gait Dysfunction in Cerebral Palsy: A Retrospective Case Study FRONTIERS IN HUMAN NEUROSCIENCE Falisse, A., Pitto, L., Kainz, H., Hoang, H., Wesseling, M., Van Rossom, S., Papageorgiou, E., Bar-On, L., Hallemans, A., Desloovere, K., Molenaers, G., Van Campenhout, A., De Groote, F., Jonkers, I. 2020; 14: 40

    Abstract

    Physics-based simulations of walking have the theoretical potential to support clinical decision-making by predicting the functional outcome of treatments in terms of walking performance. Yet before using such simulations in clinical practice, their ability to identify the main treatment targets in specific patients needs to be demonstrated. In this study, we generated predictive simulations of walking with a medical imaging based neuro-musculoskeletal model of a child with cerebral palsy presenting crouch gait. We explored the influence of altered muscle-tendon properties, reduced neuromuscular control complexity, and spasticity on gait dysfunction in terms of joint kinematics, kinetics, muscle activity, and metabolic cost of transport. We modeled altered muscle-tendon properties by personalizing Hill-type muscle-tendon parameters based on data collected during functional movements, simpler neuromuscular control by reducing the number of independent muscle synergies, and spasticity through delayed muscle activity feedback from muscle force and force rate. Our simulations revealed that, in the presence of aberrant musculoskeletal geometries, altered muscle-tendon properties rather than reduced neuromuscular control complexity and spasticity were the primary cause of the crouch gait pattern observed for this child, which is in agreement with the clinical examination. These results suggest that muscle-tendon properties should be the primary target of interventions aiming to restore an upright gait pattern for this child. This suggestion is in line with the gait analysis following muscle-tendon property and bone deformity corrections. Future work should extend this single case analysis to more patients in order to validate the ability of our physics-based simulations to capture the gait patterns of individual patients pre- and post-treatment. Such validation would open the door for identifying targeted treatment strategies with the aim of designing optimized interventions for neuro-musculoskeletal disorders.

    View details for DOI 10.3389/fnhum.2020.00040

    View details for Web of Science ID 000518657500001

    View details for PubMedID 32132911

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC7040166

  • OpenSim Moco: Musculoskeletal optimal control. PLoS computational biology Dembia, C. L., Bianco, N. A., Falisse, A. n., Hicks, J. L., Delp, S. L. 2020; 16 (12): e1008493

    Abstract

    Musculoskeletal simulations are used in many different applications, ranging from the design of wearable robots that interact with humans to the analysis of patients with impaired movement. Here, we introduce OpenSim Moco, a software toolkit for optimizing the motion and control of musculoskeletal models built in the OpenSim modeling and simulation package. OpenSim Moco uses the direct collocation method, which is often faster and can handle more diverse problems than other methods for musculoskeletal simulation. Moco frees researchers from implementing direct collocation themselves-which typically requires extensive technical expertise-and allows them to focus on their scientific questions. The software can handle a wide range of problems that interest biomechanists, including motion tracking, motion prediction, parameter optimization, model fitting, electromyography-driven simulation, and device design. Moco is the first musculoskeletal direct collocation tool to handle kinematic constraints, which enable modeling of kinematic loops (e.g., cycling models) and complex anatomy (e.g., patellar motion). To show the abilities of Moco, we first solved for muscle activity that produced an observed walking motion while minimizing squared muscle excitations and knee joint loading. Next, we predicted how muscle weakness may cause deviations from a normal walking motion. Lastly, we predicted a squat-to-stand motion and optimized the stiffness of an assistive device placed at the knee. We designed Moco to be easy to use, customizable, and extensible, thereby accelerating the use of simulations to understand the movement of humans and other animals.

    View details for DOI 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1008493

    View details for PubMedID 33370252

  • Algorithmic differentiation improves the computational efficiency of OpenSim-based trajectory optimization of human movement PLOS ONE Falisse, A., Serrancol, G., Dembia, C. L., Gillis, J., De Groote, F. 2019; 14 (10): e0217730

    Abstract

    Algorithmic differentiation (AD) is an alternative to finite differences (FD) for evaluating function derivatives. The primary aim of this study was to demonstrate the computational benefits of using AD instead of FD in OpenSim-based trajectory optimization of human movement. The secondary aim was to evaluate computational choices including different AD tools, different linear solvers, and the use of first- or second-order derivatives. First, we enabled the use of AD in OpenSim through a custom source code transformation tool and through the operator overloading tool ADOL-C. Second, we developed an interface between OpenSim and CasADi to solve trajectory optimization problems. Third, we evaluated computational choices through simulations of perturbed balance, two-dimensional predictive simulations of walking, and three-dimensional tracking simulations of walking. We performed all simulations using direct collocation and implicit differential equations. Using AD through our custom tool was between 1.8 ± 0.1 and 17.8 ± 4.9 times faster than using FD, and between 3.6 ± 0.3 and 12.3 ± 1.3 times faster than using AD through ADOL-C. The linear solver efficiency was problem-dependent and no solver was consistently more efficient. Using second-order derivatives was more efficient for balance simulations but less efficient for walking simulations. The walking simulations were physiologically realistic. These results highlight how the use of AD drastically decreases computational time of trajectory optimization problems as compared to more common FD. Overall, combining AD with direct collocation and implicit differential equations decreases the computational burden of trajectory optimization of human movement, which will facilitate their use for biomechanical applications requiring the use of detailed models of the musculoskeletal system.

    View details for DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0217730

    View details for Web of Science ID 000532567300004

    View details for PubMedID 31622352

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC6797126

  • Rapid predictive simulations with complex musculoskeletal models suggest that diverse healthy and pathological human gaits can emerge from similar control strategies JOURNAL OF THE ROYAL SOCIETY INTERFACE Falisse, A., Serrancoli, G., Dembia, C. L., Gillis, J., Jonkers, I., De Groote, F. 2019; 16 (157): 20190402

    Abstract

    Physics-based predictive simulations of human movement have the potential to support personalized medicine, but large computational costs and difficulties to model control strategies have limited their use. We have developed a computationally efficient optimal control framework to predict human gaits based on optimization of a performance criterion without relying on experimental data. The framework generates three-dimensional muscle-driven simulations in 36 min on average-more than 20 times faster than existing simulations-by using direct collocation, implicit differential equations and algorithmic differentiation. Using this framework, we identified a multi-objective performance criterion combining energy and effort considerations that produces physiologically realistic walking gaits. The same criterion also predicted the walk-to-run transition and clinical gait deficiencies caused by muscle weakness and prosthesis use, suggesting that diverse healthy and pathological gaits can emerge from the same control strategy. The ability to predict the mechanics and energetics of a broad range of gaits with complex three-dimensional musculoskeletal models will allow testing novel hypotheses about gait control and hasten the development of optimal treatments for neuro-musculoskeletal disorders.

    View details for DOI 10.1098/rsif.2019.0402

    View details for Web of Science ID 000484404700029

    View details for PubMedID 31431186

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC6731507

  • Computational modelling of muscle fibre operating ranges in the hindlimb of a small ground bird (Eudromia elegans), with implications for modelling locomotion in extinct species. PLoS computational biology Bishop, P. J., Michel, K. B., Falisse, A., Cuff, A. R., Allen, V. R., De Groote, F., Hutchinson, J. R. 2021; 17 (4): e1008843

    Abstract

    The arrangement and physiology of muscle fibres can strongly influence musculoskeletal function and whole-organismal performance. However, experimental investigation of muscle function during in vivo activity is typically limited to relatively few muscles in a given system. Computational models and simulations of the musculoskeletal system can partly overcome these limitations, by exploring the dynamics of muscles, tendons and other tissues in a robust and quantitative fashion. Here, a high-fidelity, 26-degree-of-freedom musculoskeletal model was developed of the hindlimb of a small ground bird, the elegant-crested tinamou (Eudromia elegans, ~550 g), including all the major muscles of the limb (36 actuators per leg). The model was integrated with biplanar fluoroscopy (XROMM) and forceplate data for walking and running, where dynamic optimization was used to estimate muscle excitations and fibre length changes throughout both gaits. Following this, a series of static simulations over the total range of physiological limb postures were performed, to circumscribe the bounds of possible variation in fibre length. During gait, fibre lengths for all muscles remained between 0.5 to 1.21 times optimal fibre length, but operated mostly on the ascending limb and plateau of the active force-length curve, a result that parallels previous experimental findings for birds, humans and other species. However, the ranges of fibre length varied considerably among individual muscles, especially when considered across the total possible range of joint excursion. Net length change of muscle-tendon units was mostly less than optimal fibre length, sometimes markedly so, suggesting that approaches that use muscle-tendon length change to estimate optimal fibre length in extinct species are likely underestimating this important parameter for many muscles. The results of this study clarify and broaden understanding of muscle function in extant animals, and can help refine approaches used to study extinct species.

    View details for DOI 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1008843

    View details for PubMedID 33793558

  • In Silico-Enhanced Treatment and Rehabilitation Planning for Patients with Musculoskeletal Disorders: Can Musculoskeletal Modelling and Dynamic Simulations Really Impact Current Clinical Practice? APPLIED SCIENCES-BASEL Killen, B. A., Falisse, A., De Groote, F., Jonkers, I. 2020; 10 (20)
  • Subject-Exoskeleton Contact Model Calibration Leads to Accurate Interaction Force Predictions IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON NEURAL SYSTEMS AND REHABILITATION ENGINEERING Serrancoli, G., Falisse, A., Dembia, C., Vantilt, J., Tanghe, K., Lefeber, D., Jonkers, I., De Schutter, J., De Groote, F. 2019; 27 (8): 1597–1605

    Abstract

    Knowledge of human-exoskeleton interaction forces is crucial to assess user comfort and effectiveness of the interaction. The subject-exoskeleton collaborative movement and its interaction forces can be predicted in silico using computational modeling techniques. We developed an optimal control framework that consisted of three phases. First, the foot-ground (Phase A) and the subject-exoskeleton (Phase B) contact models were calibrated using three experimental sit-to-stand trials. Then, the collaborative movement and the subject-exoskeleton interaction forces, of six different sit-to-stand trials were predicted (Phase C). The results show that the contact models were able to reproduce experimental kinematics of calibration trials (mean root mean square differences - RMSD - coordinates ≤ 1.1° and velocities ≤ 6.8°/s), ground reaction forces (mean RMSD≤ 22.9 N), as well as the interaction forces at the pelvis, thigh, and shank (mean RMSD ≤ 5.4 N). Phase C could predict the collaborative movements of prediction trials (mean RMSD coordinates ≤ 3.5° and velocities ≤ 15.0°/s), and their subject-exoskeleton interaction forces (mean RMSD ≤ 13.1° N). In conclusion, this optimal control framework could be used while designing exoskeletons to have in silico knowledge of new optimal movements and their interaction forces.

    View details for DOI 10.1109/TNSRE.2019.2924536

    View details for Web of Science ID 000480356700011

    View details for PubMedID 31247556

  • SimCP: A Simulation Platform to Predict Gait Performance Following Orthopedic Intervention in Children With Cerebral Palsy FRONTIERS IN NEUROROBOTICS Pitto, L., Kainz, H., Falisse, A., Wesseling, M., Van Rossom, S., Hoang, H., Papageorgiou, E., Hallemans, A., Desloovere, K., Molenaers, G., Van Campenhout, A., De Groote, F., Jonkers, I. 2019; 13: 54

    Abstract

    Gait deficits in cerebral palsy (CP) are often treated with a single-event multi-level surgery (SEMLS). Selecting the treatment options (combination of bony and soft tissue corrections) for a specific patient is a complex endeavor and very often treatment outcome is not satisfying. A deterioration in 22.8% of the parameters describing gait performance has been reported and there is need for additional surgery in 11% of the patients. Computational simulations based on musculoskeletal models that allow clinicians to test the effects of different treatment options before surgery have the potential to drastically improve treatment outcome. However, to date, no such simulation and modeling method is available. Two important challenges are the development of methods to include patient-specific neuromechanical impairments into the models and to simulate the effect of different surgical procedures on post-operative gait performance. Therefore, we developed the SimCP framework that allows the evaluation of the effect of different simulated surgeries on gait performance of a specific patient and includes a graphical user interface (GUI) that enables performing virtual surgery on the models. We demonstrated the potential of our framework for two case studies. Models reflecting the patient-specific musculoskeletal geometry and muscle properties are generated based solely on data collected before the treatment. The patient's motor control is described based on muscle synergies derived from pre-operative EMG. The GUI is then used to modify the musculoskeletal properties according to the surgical plan. Since SEMLS does not affect motor control, the same motor control model is used to define gait performance pre- and post-operative. We use the capability gap (CG), i.e., the difference between the joint moments needed to perform healthy walking and the joint moments the personalized model can generate, to quantify gait performance. In both cases, the CG was smaller post- then pre-operative and this was in accordance with the measured change in gait kinematics after treatment.

    View details for DOI 10.3389/fnbot.2019.00054

    View details for Web of Science ID 000477745300002

    View details for PubMedID 31379550

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC6650580

  • A spasticity model based on feedback from muscle force explains muscle activity during passive stretches and gait in children with cerebral palsy PLOS ONE Falisse, A., Bar-On, L., Desloovere, K., Jonkers, I., De Groote, F. 2018; 13 (12): e0208811

    Abstract

    Muscle spasticity is characterized by exaggerated stretch reflexes and affects about 85% of the children with cerebral palsy. However, the mechanisms underlying spasticity and its influence on gait are not well understood. Here, we first aimed to model the response of spastic hamstrings and gastrocnemii in children with cerebral palsy to fast passive stretches. Then, we evaluated how the model applied to gait. We developed three models based on exaggerated proprioceptive feedback. The first model relied on feedback from muscle fiber length and velocity (velocity-related model), the second model relied on feedback from muscle fiber length, velocity, and acceleration (acceleration-related model), and the third model relied on feedback from muscle force and its first time derivative (force-related model). The force-related model better reproduced measured hamstrings and gastrocnemii activity during fast passive stretches (coefficients of determination (R2): 0.73 ± 0.10 and 0.60 ± 0.13, respectively, and root mean square errors (RMSE): 0.034 ± 0.031 and 0.009 ± 0.007, respectively) than the velocity-related model (R2: 0.46 ± 0.15 and 0.07 ± 0.13, and RMSE: 0.053 ± 0.051 and 0.015 ± 0.009), and the acceleration-related model (R2: 0.47 ± 0.15 and 0.09 ± 0.14, and RMSE: 0.052 ± 0.050 and 0.015 ± 0.008). Additionally, the force-related model predicted hamstrings and gastrocnemii activity that better correlated with measured activity during gait (cross correlations: 0.82 ± 0.09 and 0.85 ± 0.06, respectively) than the activity predicted by the velocity-related model (cross correlations: 0.49 ± 0.17 and 0.71 ± 0.22) and the acceleration-related model (cross correlations: 0.51 ± 0.16 and 0.67 ± 0.20). Our results therefore suggest that force encoding in muscle spindles in combination with altered feedback gains and thresholds underlie activity of spastic muscles during passive stretches and gait. Our model of spasticity opens new perspectives for studying movement impairments due to spasticity through simulation.

    View details for DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0208811

    View details for Web of Science ID 000452640900048

    View details for PubMedID 30532154

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC6286045

  • OpenSim Versus Human Body Model: A Comparison Study for the Lower Limbs During Gait. Journal of applied biomechanics Falisse, A. n., Van Rossom, S. n., Gijsbers, J. n., Steenbrink, F. n., van Basten, B. J., Jonkers, I. n., van den Bogert, A. J., De Groote, F. n. 2018: 1–7

    Abstract

    Musculoskeletal modeling and simulations have become popular tools for analyzing human movements. However, end users are often not aware of underlying modeling and computational assumptions. This study investigates how these assumptions affect biomechanical gait analysis outcomes performed with Human Body Model and the OpenSim gait2392 model. The authors compared joint kinematics, kinetics, and muscle forces resulting from processing data from 7 healthy adults with both models. Although outcome variables had similar patterns, there were statistically significant differences in joint kinematics (maximal difference: 9.8° [1.5°] in sagittal plane hip rotation), kinetics (maximal difference: 0.36 [0.10] N·m/kg in sagittal plane hip moment), and muscle forces (maximal difference: 8.51 [1.80] N/kg for psoas). These differences might be explained by differences in hip and knee joint center locations up to 2.4 (0.5) and 1.9 (0.2) cm in the posteroanterior and inferosuperior directions, respectively, and by the offset in pelvic reference frames of about 10° around the mediolateral axis. The choice of model may not influence the conclusions in clinical settings, where the focus is on interpreting deviations from the reference data, but it will affect the conclusions of mechanical analyses in which the goal is to obtain accurate estimates of kinematics and loading.

    View details for DOI 10.1123/jab.2017-0156

    View details for PubMedID 29809082

  • The influence of maximum isometric muscle force scaling on estimated muscle forces from musculoskeletal models of children with cerebral palsy. Gait & posture Kainz, H. n., Goudriaan, M. n., Falisse, A. n., Huenaerts, C. n., Desloovere, K. n., De Groote, F. n., Jonkers, I. n. 2018; 65: 213–20

    Abstract

    Musculoskeletal models do not include patient-specific muscle forces but rely on a scaled generic model, with muscle forces left unscaled in most cases. However, to use musculoskeletal simulations to inform clinical decision-making in children with cerebral palsy (CP), inclusion of subject-specific muscle forces is of utmost importance in order to represent each child's compensation mechanisms introduced through muscle weakness.The aims of this study were to (i) evaluate if maximum isometric muscle forces (MIMF) in musculoskeletal models of children with CP can be scaled based on strength measurements obtained with a hand-held-dynamometer (HHD), (ii) evaluate the impact of the HHD based scaling approach and previously published MIMF scaling methods on computed muscle forces during gait, and (iii) compare maximum muscle forces during gait between CP and typically developing (TD) children.Strength and motion capture data of six CP and motion capture data of six TD children were collected. The HHD measurements to obtain hip, knee and ankle muscle strength were simulated in OpenSim and used to modify MIMF of the 2392-OpenSim model. These muscle forces were compared to the MIMF scaled on the child's body mass and a scaling approach, which included the body mass and muscle-tendon lengths. OpenSim was used to calculate peak muscle forces during gait.Ankle muscle strength was insufficient to reproduce joint moments during walking when MIMF were scaled based on HHD. During gait, peak hip and knee extensor muscle forces were higher and peak ankle dorsi-flexor forces were lower in CP compared to TD participants.HHD measurements can be used to scale MIMF for the hip and knee muscle groups but underestimate the force capacity of the ankle muscle groups during walking. Muscle-tendon-length and mass based scaling methods affected muscle activations but had little influence on peak muscle forces during gait.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.gaitpost.2018.07.172

    View details for PubMedID 30558934

  • EMG-Driven Optimal Estimation of Subject-SPECIFIC Hill Model Muscle-Tendon Parameters of the Knee Joint Actuators IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON BIOMEDICAL ENGINEERING Falisse, A., Van Rossom, S., Jonkers, I., De Groote, F. 2017; 64 (9): 2253–62

    Abstract

    the purpose of this paper is to propose an optimal control problem formulation to estimate subject-specific Hill model muscle-tendon (MT-) parameters of the knee joint actuators by optimizing the fit between experimental and model-based knee moments. Additionally, this paper aims at determining which sets of functional motions contain the necessary information to identify the MT-parameters.the optimal control and parameter estimation problem underlying the MT-parameter estimation is solved for subject-specific MT-parameters via direct collocation using an electromyography-driven musculoskeletal model. The sets of motions containing sufficient information to identify the MT-parameters are determined by evaluating knee moments simulated based on subject-specific MT-parameters against experimental moments.the MT-parameter estimation problem was solved in about 30 CPU minutes. MT-parameters could be identified from only seven of the 62 investigated sets of motions, underlining the importance of the experimental protocol. Using subject-specific MT-parameters instead of more common linearly scaled MT-parameters improved the fit between inverse dynamics moments and simulated moments by about 30% in terms of the coefficient of determination (from [Formula: see text] to [Formula: see text]) and by about 26% in terms of the root mean square error (from [Formula: see text] to [Formula: see text] ). In particular, subject-specific MT-parameters of the knee flexors were very different from linearly scaled MT-parameters.we introduced a computationally efficient optimal control problem formulation and provided guidelines for designing an experimental protocol to estimate subject-specific MT-parameters improving the accuracy of motion simulations.the proposed formulation opens new perspectives for subject-specific musculoskeletal modeling, which might be beneficial for simulating and understanding pathological motions.

    View details for DOI 10.1109/TBME.2016.2630009

    View details for Web of Science ID 000408111500023

    View details for PubMedID 27875132