All Publications

  • Estimating the effect size of surgery to improve walking in children with cerebral palsy from retrospective observational clinical data. Scientific reports Rajagopal, A., Kidzinski, L., McGlaughlin, A. S., Hicks, J. L., Delp, S. L., Schwartz, M. H. 2018; 8 (1): 16344


    Single-event multilevel surgery (SEMLS) is a standard treatment approach aimed at improving gait for patients with cerebral palsy, but the effect of this approach compared to natural progression without surgical intervention is unclear. In this study, we used retrospective patient history, physical exam, and three-dimensional gait analysis data from 2,333 limbs to build regression models estimating the effect of SEMLS on gait, while controlling for expected natural progression. Post-hoc classifications using the regression model results identified which limbs would exhibit gait within two standard deviations of typical gait at the follow-up visit with or without a SEMLS with 73% and 77% accuracy, respectively. Using these models, we found that, while surgery was expected to have a positive effect on 93% of limbs compared to natural progression, in only 37% of limbs was this expected effect a clinically meaningful improvement. We identified 26% of the non-surgically treated limbs that may have shown a clinically meaningful improvement in gait had they received surgery. Our models suggest that pre-operative physical therapy focused on improving biomechanical characteristics, such as walking speed and strength, may improve likelihood of positive surgical outcomes. These models are shared with the community to use as an evaluation tool when considering whether or not a patient should undergo a SEMLS.

    View details for PubMedID 30397268

  • Machine learning in human movement biomechanics: Best practices, common pitfalls, and new opportunities. Journal of biomechanics Halilaj, E., Rajagopal, A., Fiterau, M., Hicks, J. L., Hastie, T. J., Delp, S. L. 2018


    Traditional laboratory experiments, rehabilitation clinics, and wearable sensors offer biomechanists a wealth of data on healthy and pathological movement. To harness the power of these data and make research more efficient, modern machine learning techniques are starting to complement traditional statistical tools. This survey summarizes the current usage of machine learning methods in human movement biomechanics and highlights best practices that will enable critical evaluation of the literature. We carried out a PubMed/Medline database search for original research articles that used machine learning to study movement biomechanics in patients with musculoskeletal and neuromuscular diseases. Most studies that met our inclusion criteria focused on classifying pathological movement, predicting risk of developing a disease, estimating the effect of an intervention, or automatically recognizing activities to facilitate out-of-clinic patient monitoring. We found that research studies build and evaluate models inconsistently, which motivated our discussion of best practices. We provide recommendations for training and evaluating machine learning models and discuss the potential of several underutilized approaches, such as deep learning, to generate new knowledge about human movement. We believe that cross-training biomechanists in data science and a cultural shift toward sharing of data and tools are essential to maximize the impact of biomechanics research.

    View details for PubMedID 30279002

  • OpenSim: Simulating musculoskeletal dynamics and neuromuscular control to study human and animal movement. PLoS computational biology Seth, A., Hicks, J. L., Uchida, T. K., Habib, A., Dembia, C. L., Dunne, J. J., Ong, C. F., DeMers, M. S., Rajagopal, A., Millard, M., Hamner, S. R., Arnold, E. M., Yong, J. R., Lakshmikanth, S. K., Sherman, M. A., Ku, J. P., Delp, S. L. 2018; 14 (7): e1006223


    Movement is fundamental to human and animal life, emerging through interaction of complex neural, muscular, and skeletal systems. Study of movement draws from and contributes to diverse fields, including biology, neuroscience, mechanics, and robotics. OpenSim unites methods from these fields to create fast and accurate simulations of movement, enabling two fundamental tasks. First, the software can calculate variables that are difficult to measure experimentally, such as the forces generated by muscles and the stretch and recoil of tendons during movement. Second, OpenSim can predict novel movements from models of motor control, such as kinematic adaptations of human gait during loaded or inclined walking. Changes in musculoskeletal dynamics following surgery or due to human-device interaction can also be simulated; these simulations have played a vital role in several applications, including the design of implantable mechanical devices to improve human grasping in individuals with paralysis. OpenSim is an extensible and user-friendly software package built on decades of knowledge about computational modeling and simulation of biomechanical systems. OpenSim's design enables computational scientists to create new state-of-the-art software tools and empowers others to use these tools in research and clinical applications. OpenSim supports a large and growing community of biomechanics and rehabilitation researchers, facilitating exchange of models and simulations for reproducing and extending discoveries. Examples, tutorials, documentation, and an active user forum support this community. The OpenSim software is covered by the Apache License 2.0, which permits its use for any purpose including both nonprofit and commercial applications. The source code is freely and anonymously accessible on GitHub, where the community is welcomed to make contributions. Platform-specific installers of OpenSim include a GUI and are available on

    View details for PubMedID 30048444

  • Full-Body Musculoskeletal Model for Muscle-Driven Simulation of Human Gait IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON BIOMEDICAL ENGINEERING Rajagopal, A., Dembia, C. L., Demers, M. S., Delp, D. D., Hicks, J. L., Delp, S. L. 2016; 63 (10): 2068-2079


    Musculoskeletal models provide a non-invasive means to study human movement and predict the effects of interventions on gait. Our goal was to create an open-source 3-D musculoskeletal model with high-fidelity representations of the lower limb musculature of healthy young individuals that can be used to generate accurate simulations of gait.Our model includes bony geometry for the full body, 37 degrees of freedom to define joint kinematics, Hill-type models of 80 muscle-tendon units actuating the lower limbs, and 17 ideal torque actuators driving the upper body. The model's musculotendon parameters are derived from previous anatomical measurements of 21 cadaver specimens and magnetic resonance images of 24 young healthy subjects. We tested the model by evaluating its computational time and accuracy of simulations of healthy walking and running.Generating muscle-driven simulations of normal walking and running took approximately 10 minutes on a typical desktop computer. The differences between our muscle-generated and inverse dynamics joint moments were within 3% (RMSE) of the peak inverse dynamics joint moments in both walking and running, and our simulated muscle activity showed qualitative agreement with salient features from experimental electromyography data.These results suggest that our model is suitable for generating muscle-driven simulations of healthy gait. We encourage other researchers to further validate and apply the model to study other motions of the lower extremity.The model is implemented in the open-source software platform OpenSim. The model and data used to create and test the simulations are freely available at, allowing others to reproduce these results and create their own simulations.

    View details for DOI 10.1109/TBME.2016.2586891

    View details for Web of Science ID 000384570200010

    View details for PubMedID 27392337

  • Is My Model Good Enough? Best Practices for Verification and Validation of Musculoskeletal Models and Simulations of Movement JOURNAL OF BIOMECHANICAL ENGINEERING-TRANSACTIONS OF THE ASME Hicks, J. L., Uchida, T. K., Seth, A., Rajagopal, A., Delp, S. L. 2015; 137 (2)


    Computational modeling and simulation of neuromusculoskeletal (NMS) systems enables researchers and clinicians to study the complex dynamics underlying human and animal movement. NMS models use equations derived from physical laws and biology to help solve challenging real-world problems, from designing prosthetics that maximize running speed to developing exoskeletal devices that enable walking after a stroke. NMS modeling and simulation has proliferated in the biomechanics research community over the past 25 years, but the lack of verification and validation standards remains a major barrier to wider adoption and impact. The goal of this paper is to establish practical guidelines for verification and validation of NMS models and simulations that researchers, clinicians, reviewers, and others can adopt to evaluate the accuracy and credibility of modeling studies. In particular, we review a general process for verification and validation applied to NMS models and simulations, including careful formulation of a research question and methods, traditional verification and validation steps, and documentation and sharing of results for use and testing by other researchers. Modeling the NMS system and simulating its motion involves methods to represent neural control, musculoskeletal geometry, muscle-tendon dynamics, contact forces, and multibody dynamics. For each of these components, we review modeling choices and software verification guidelines; discuss variability, errors, uncertainty, and sensitivity relationships; and provide recommendations for verification and validation by comparing experimental data and testing robustness. We present a series of case studies to illustrate key principles. In closing, we discuss challenges the community must overcome to ensure that modeling and simulation are successfully used to solve the broad spectrum of problems that limit human mobility.

    View details for DOI 10.1115/1.4029304

    View details for Web of Science ID 000350571400005

    View details for PubMedID 25474098

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC4321112