Shoulder model validation and joint contact forces during wheelchair activities

Melissa M.B. Morrow, Kenton R. Kaufman, Kai Nan An

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Chronic shoulder impingement is a common problem for manual wheelchair users. The loading associated with performing manual wheelchair activities of daily living is substantial and often at a high frequency. Musculoskeletal modeling and optimization techniques can be used to estimate the joint contact forces occurring at the shoulder to assess the soft tissue loading during an activity and to possibly identify activities and strategies that place manual wheelchair users at risk for shoulder injuries. The purpose of this study was to validate an upper extremity musculoskeletal model and apply the model to wheelchair activities for analysis of the estimated joint contact forces. Upper extremity kinematics and handrim wheelchair kinetics were measured over three conditions: level propulsion, ramp propulsion, and a weight relief lift. The experimental data were used as input to a subject-specific musculoskeletal model utilizing optimization to predict joint contact forces of the shoulder during all conditions. The model was validated using a mean absolute error calculation. Model results confirmed that ramp propulsion and weight relief lifts place the shoulder under significantly higher joint contact loading than level propulsion. In addition, they exhibit large superior contact forces that could contribute to impingement. This study highlights the potential impingement risk associated with both the ramp and weight relief lift activities. Level propulsion was shown to have a low relative risk of causing injury, but with consideration of the frequency with which propulsion is performed, this observation is not conclusive.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2487-2492
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Biomechanics
Issue number13
StatePublished - Sep 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Joint contact forces
  • Musculoskeletal model
  • Shoulder
  • Wheelchair

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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