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Targeted achilles tendon training and rehabilitation using personalized and real-time multiscale models of the neuromusculoskeletal system
journal contributionposted on 31.08.2020, 00:00 authored by C Pizzolato, VB Shim, DG Lloyd, D Devaprakash, Steven ObstSteven Obst, R Newsham-West, DF Graham, TF Besier, MH Zheng, RS Barrett
Musculoskeletal tissues, including tendons, are sensitive to their mechanical environment, with both excessive and insufficient loading resulting in reduced tissue strength. Tendons appear to be particularly sensitive to mechanical strain magnitude, and there appears to be an optimal range of tendon strain that results in the greatest positive tendon adaptation. At present, there are no tools that allow localized tendon strain to be measured or estimated in training or a clinical environment. In this paper, we first review the current literature regarding Achilles tendon adaptation, providing an overview of the individual technologies that so far have been used in isolation to understand in vivo Achilles tendon mechanics, including 3D tendon imaging, motion capture, personalized neuromusculoskeletal rigid body models, and finite element models. We then describe how these technologies can be integrated in a novel framework to provide real-time feedback of localized Achilles tendon strain during dynamic motor tasks. In a proof of concept application, Achilles tendon localized strains were calculated in real-time for a single subject during walking, single leg hopping, and eccentric heel drop. Data was processed at 250 Hz and streamed on a smartphone for visualization. Achilles tendon peak localized strains ranged from 3 to 11% for walking, 5 to 15% during single leg hop, and 2 to 9% during single eccentric leg heel drop, overall showing large strain variation within the tendon. Our integrated framework connects, across size scales, knowledge from isolated tendons and whole-body biomechanics, and offers a new approach to Achilles tendon rehabilitation and training. A key feature is personalization of model components, such as tendon geometry, material properties, muscle geometry, muscle-tendon paths, moment arms, muscle activation, and movement patterns, all of which have the potential to affect tendon strain estimates. Model personalization is important because tendon strain can differ substantially between individuals performing the same exercise due to inter-individual differences in these model components.