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Research Papers

Muscle Function and Coordination of Stair Ascent

[+] Author and Article Information
Nicole G. Harper

Department of Mechanical Engineering,
The University of Texas at Austin,
204 E. Dean Keeton Street, Stop C2200,
Austin, TX 78712
e-mail: Nicole.harper@utexas.edu

Jason M. Wilken

Department of Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation,
Center for the Intrepid,
Brooke Army Medical Center,
Ft. Sam Houston, TX 78234
e-mail: jason-wilken@uiowa.edu

Richard R. Neptune

Department of Mechanical Engineering,
The University of Texas at Austin,
204 E. Dean Keeton Street, Stop C2200,
Austin, TX 78712
e-mail: rneptune@mail.utexas.edu

1Corresponding author.

Manuscript received July 15, 2016; final manuscript received August 17, 2017; published online October 19, 2017. Assoc. Editor: Kenneth Fischer.

J Biomech Eng 140(1), 011001 (Oct 19, 2017) (11 pages) Paper No: BIO-16-1297; doi: 10.1115/1.4037791 History: Received July 15, 2016; Revised August 17, 2017

Stair ascent is an activity of daily living and necessary for maintaining independence in community environments. One challenge to improving an individual's ability to ascend stairs is a limited understanding of how lower-limb muscles work in synergy to perform stair ascent. Through dynamic coupling, muscles can perform multiple functions and require contributions from other muscles to perform a task successfully. The purpose of this study was to identify the functional roles of individual muscles during stair ascent and the mechanisms by which muscles work together to perform specific subtasks. A three-dimensional (3D) muscle-actuated simulation of stair ascent was generated to identify individual muscle contributions to the biomechanical subtasks of vertical propulsion, anteroposterior (AP) braking and propulsion, mediolateral control and leg swing. The vasti and plantarflexors were the primary contributors to vertical propulsion during the first and second halves of stance, respectively, while gluteus maximus and hamstrings were the primary contributors to forward propulsion during the first and second halves of stance, respectively. The anterior and posterior components of gluteus medius were the primary contributors to medial control, while vasti and hamstrings were the primary contributors to lateral control during the first and second halves of stance, respectively. To control leg swing, antagonistic muscles spanning the hip, knee, and ankle joints distributed power from the leg to the remaining body segments. These results compliment previous studies analyzing stair ascent and provide further rationale for developing targeted rehabilitation strategies to address patient-specific deficits in stair ascent.

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Figures

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 1

The six regions of the ipsilateral (dark shaded) leg gait cycle: (1) weight acceptance (ipsilateral foot-strike to contralateral toe-off), (2) pull-up and (3) forward continuance (contralateral toe-off to contralateral foot-strike divided into two equal sections), (4) push-up (contralateral foot-strike to ipsilateral toe-off), (5) early swing and foot clearance and (6) late swing and foot placement (ipsilateral toe-off to ipsilateral foot-strike divided into two equal sections). The six regions of the gait cycle were adapted from previous studies [1,10].

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 2

Primary positive and negative contributors to vertical propulsion of the body COM (i.e., the vertical GRF impulse) during the two halves of ipsilateral stance: (1) weight acceptance through pull-up, and (2) forward continuance through push-up. Unless otherwise specified, muscles are from the ipsilateral leg. For muscle group abbreviations, see Table 1.

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 3

Musculotendon mechanical power output from the ipsilateral leg muscles across the ipsilateral gait cycle and distributed to the trunk, ipsilateral (Ipsi) leg, and contralateral (Contra) leg in the vertical direction (vertical power). Positive (negative) net values indicate power generated (absorbed) by the musculotendon actuator. Positive (negative) values for the leg or trunk indicate that power is being generated to (absorbed from) the leg or trunk which is being accelerated (decelerated) in the direction of its motion. The gray lines divide the gait cycle into three regions: (1) weight acceptance through pull-up, (2) forward continuance through push-up, and (3) swing (foot clearance through foot placement). For muscle group abbreviations, see Table 1. Note that the large, transient spikes in SOL's power at the beginning of the gait cycle arise due to the force impulse generated at foot-strike.

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 4

Primary positive and negative contributors to AP braking and propulsion of the body COM (i.e., the AP GRF impulse) during the two halves of ipsilateral stance: (1) weight acceptance through pull-up, and (2) forward continuance through push-up. Positive (negative) GRF impulses indicate contributions to forward propulsion (braking) of the COM. Muscles are from the ipsilateral leg. For muscle group abbreviations, see Table 1.

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 5

Musculotendon mechanical power output from the ipsilateral leg muscles across the ipsilateral gait cycle and distributed to the trunk, ipsilateral (Ipsi) leg, and contralateral (Contra) leg in the AP direction (AP power). Positive (negative) net values indicate power generated (absorbed) by the musculotendon actuator. Positive (negative) values for the leg or trunk indicate that power is being generated to (absorbed from) the leg or trunk which is being accelerated (decelerated) in the direction of its motion. The gray lines divide the gait cycle into three regions: (1) weight acceptance through pull-up, (2) forward continuance through push-up, and (3) swing (foot clearance through foot placement). For muscle group abbreviations, see Table 1. Note that the large, transient spikes in SOL's power at the beginning of the gait cycle arise due to the force impulse generated at foot-strike.

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 6

Primary positive and negative contributors to mediolateral (ML) control of the body COM (i.e., the ML GRF impulse) during the two halves of ipsilateral stance: (1) weight acceptance through pull-up and (2) forward continuance through push-up. Positive (negative) GRF impulses indicate contributions to lateral (medial) control of the COM. Unless otherwise specified, muscles are from the ipsilateral leg. For muscle group abbreviations, see Table 1.

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 7

Musculotendon mechanical power output from the ipsilateral leg muscles across the ipsilateral gait cycle and distributed to the trunk, ipsilateral (Ipsi) leg, and contralateral (Contra) leg in the mediolateral (ML) direction (mediolateral power). Positive (negative) net values indicate power generated (absorbed) by the musculotendon actuator. Positive (negative) values for the leg or trunk indicate that power is being generated to (absorbed from) the leg or trunk which is being accelerated (decelerated) in the direction of its motion. The gray lines divide the gait cycle into three regions: (1) weight acceptance through pull-up, (2) forward continuance through push-up, and (3) swing (foot clearance through foot placement). For muscle group abbreviations, see Table 1. Note that the large, transient spikes in SOL's power at the beginning of the gait cycle arise due to the force impulse generated at foot-strike.

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 8

Primary contributors to net mean mechanical power generation (positive) to and absorption (negative) from the ipsilateral leg during (1) swing initiation (push-up), (2) early swing (foot clearance), and (3) late swing (foot placement). Unless otherwise specified, muscles are on the ipsilateral side. For muscle group abbreviations, see Table 1. Note the different scale in early swing.

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 9

Net musculotendon mechanical power output from the ipsilateral leg muscles across the ipsilateral gait cycle and distributed to the trunk, ipsilateral (Ipsi) leg, and contralateral (Contra) leg. Positive (negative) net values indicate power generated (absorbed) by the musculotendon actuator. Positive (negative) values for the leg or trunk indicate that power is being generated to (absorbed from) the leg or trunk which is being accelerated (decelerated) in the direction of its motion. The gray lines divide the gait cycle into three regions: (1) weight acceptance through pull-up, (2) forward continuance through push-up, and (3) swing (foot clearance through foot placement). For muscle group abbreviations, see Table 1. Note that the large, transient spikes in SOL's power at the beginning of the gait cycle arise due to the force impulse generated at foot-strike.

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