Practical approach to subject-specific estimation of knee joint contact force

Brian A. Knarr, Jill S. Higginson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


Compressive forces experienced at the knee can significantly contribute to cartilage degeneration. Musculoskeletal models enable predictions of the internal forces experienced at the knee, but validation is often not possible, as experimental data detailing loading at the knee joint is limited. Recently available data reporting compressive knee force through direct measurement using instrumented total knee replacements offer a unique opportunity to evaluate the accuracy of models. Previous studies have highlighted the importance of subject-specificity in increasing the accuracy of model predictions; however, these techniques may be unrealistic outside of a research setting. Therefore, the goal of our work was to identify a practical approach for accurate prediction of tibiofemoral knee contact force (KCF). Four methods for prediction of knee contact force were compared: (1) standard static optimization, (2) uniform muscle coordination weighting, (3) subject-specific muscle coordination weighting and (4) subject-specific strength adjustments. Walking trials for three subjects with instrumented knee replacements were used to evaluate the accuracy of model predictions. Predictions utilizing subject-specific muscle coordination weighting yielded the best agreement with experimental data; however this method required in vivo data for weighting factor calibration. Including subject-specific strength adjustments improved models' predictions compared to standard static optimization, with errors in peak KCF less than 0.5 body weight for all subjects. Overall, combining clinical assessments of muscle strength with standard tools available in the OpenSim software package, such as inverse kinematics and static optimization, appears to be a practical method for predicting joint contact force that can be implemented for many applications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2897-2902
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Biomechanics
Issue number11
StatePublished - Aug 20 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Contact force
  • Knee
  • Modeling
  • Osteoarthritis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Rehabilitation
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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