Optimal trajectory formation of constrained human arm reaching movements

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Opening a door, turning a steering wheel, and rotating a coffee mill are typical examples of human movements that are constrained by the physical environment. The constraints decrease the mobility of the human arm and lead to redundancy in the distribution of actuator forces (either joint torques or muscle forces). Due to this actuator redundancy, there is an infinite number of ways to form a specific arm trajectory. However, humans form trajectories in a unique way. How do humans resolve the redundancy of the constrained motions and specify the hand trajectory? To investigate this problem, we examine human arm movements in a crank-rotation task. To explain the trajectory formation in constrained point-to-point motions, we propose a combined criterion minimizing the hand contact force change and the actuating force change over the course of movement. Our experiments show a close matching between predicted and experimental data.

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