Prediction of Cervical Spinal Joint Loading and Secondary Motion Using a Musculoskeletal Multibody Dynamics Model Via Force-Dependent Kinematics Approach

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Study Design.

A cervical spine biomechanical investigation using multibody dynamics.


To develop a comprehensive cervical spine multibody dynamics model incorporated with the force-dependent kinematics (FDK) approach, and to study the influence of soft tissue deformation on the joint loading prediction.

Summary of Background Data.

Musculoskeletal multibody dynamics models have been widely used to analyze joint loading. Current cervical spine musculoskeletal models, however, neglect the joint internal motion caused by soft tissue deformation. A novel FDK approach is introduced, which can predict joint internal motion and spinal joint loading simultaneously.


A comprehensive cervical spine musculoskeletal model with the posterior facet joints and essential ligaments was developed. To quantify the influence of soft tissue structures on joint loading prediction, four different models with different features were created. These newly developed models were validated, under flexion-extension movement. The predicted intervertebral disc loads (from C3-C4 to C5-C6) were compared with the published cadaveric experimental results. Moreover, the predicted facet joint forces, ligament forces, and anterior-posterior translations of instantaneous centers of rotation were also studied.


The obtained intervertebral disc loads were varied among different models. Model 3 provided the closest prediction of joint loading to the experimental results. Moreover, the facet joint and ligament forces were in similar range of magnitude as literature findings. The predicted instantaneous centers of rotation translational changes were in accordance with the in vivo kinematics observation.


In the present study, a validated cervical spine musculoskeletal model was developed, using multibody dynamics and FDK approach. It can simulate the function of musculature and consider joint internal motion, and thus provides more reliable joint loading prediction. This newly developed cervical model can be used as an efficient tool to study the biomechanical behaviors of human cervical spine, and to understand the fundamental pathologies of spinal pains.


Level of Evidence: N /A

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