Linear Parameter Varying Identification of Dynamic Joint Stiffness during Time-Varying Voluntary Contractions
Frontiers in Computational Neuroscience
Dynamic joint stiffness is a dynamic, nonlinear relationship between the position of a joint and the torque acting about it, which can be used to describe the biomechanics of the joint and associated limb(s). This paper models and quantifies changes in ankle dynamic stiffness and its individual elements, intrinsic and reflex stiffness, in healthy human subjects during isometric, time-varying (TV) contractions of the ankle plantarflexor muscles. A subspace, linear parameter varying,
... ade (LPV-PC) algorithm was used to identify the model from measured input position perturbations and output torque data using voluntary torque as the LPV scheduling variable (SV). Monte-Carlo simulations demonstrated that the algorithm is accurate, precise, and robust to colored measurement noise. The algorithm was then used to examine stiffness changes associated with TV isometric contractions. The SV was estimated from the Soleus EMG using a Hammerstein model of EMG-torque dynamics identified from unperturbed trials. The LPV-PC algorithm identified (i) a non-parametric LPV impulse response function (LPV IRF) for intrinsic stiffness and (ii) a LPV-Hammerstein model for reflex stiffness consisting of a LPV static nonlinearity followed by a time-invariant state-space model of reflex dynamics. The results demonstrated that: (a) intrinsic stiffness, in particular ankle elasticity, increased significantly and monotonically with activation level; (b) the gain of the reflex pathway increased from rest to around 10-20% of subject's MVC and then declined; and (c) the reflex dynamics were second order. These findings suggest that in healthy human ankle, reflex stiffness contributes most at low muscle contraction levels, whereas, intrinsic contributions monotonically increase with activation level.