Sensitivity of finite helical axis parameters to temporally varying realistic motion utilizing an idealized knee model

T. S. Johnson, T. P. Andriacchi, A. G. Erdman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Various uses of the screw or helical axis have previously been reported in the literature in an attempt to quantify the complex displacements and coupled rotations of in vivo human knee kinematics. Multiple methods have been used by previous authors to calculate the axis parameters, and it has been theorized that the mathematical stability and accuracy of the finite helical axis (FHA) is highly dependent on experimental variability and rotation increment spacing between axis calculations. Previous research has not addressed the sensitivity of the FHA for true in vivo data collection, as required for gait laboratory analysis. This research presents a controlled series of experiments simulating continuous data collection as utilized in gait analysis to investigate the sensitivity of the three-dimensional finite screw axis parameters of rotation, displacement, orientation and location with regard to time step increment spacing, utilizing two different methods for spatial location. Six-degree- of-freedom motion parameters are measured for an idealized rigid body knee model that is constrained to a planar motion profile for the purposes of error analysis. The kinematic data are collected using a multicamera optoelectronic system combined with an error minimization algorithm known as the point cluster method. Rotation about the screw axis is seen to be repeatable, accurate and time step increment insensitive. Displacement along the axis is highly dependent on time step increment sizing, with smaller rotation angles between calculations producing more accuracy. Orientation of the axis in space is accurate with only a slight filtering effect noticed during motion reversal. Locating the screw axis by a projected point onto the screw axis from the mid-point of the finite displacement is found to be less sensitive to motion reversal than finding the intersection of the axis with a reference plane. A filtering effect of the spatial location parameters was noted for larger time step increments during periods of little or no rotation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)89-100
Number of pages12
JournalProceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part H: Journal of Engineering in Medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 2004


  • Error analysis
  • Finite helical axis
  • Joint coordinate system
  • Knee kinematics
  • Point cluster technique
  • Screw axis
  • Sensitivity

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