System identification techniques were used to examine the position dependence of passive ankle joint mechanics. The relaxed ankle was stochastically perturbed about different angles in the range of motion (ROM). The linear dynamic relation between ankle position and torque was identified and modelled as a second-order underdamped system, having inertial (I), viscous (B) and elastic (K) parameters. Mean joint torque changed as the ankle was rotated through the ROM; it was small at mid-range and became much larger toward either extreme. While I remained constant both B and K changed as a function of ankle angle. At the extremes of the ROM, K was much larger than previously assumed and the relation between stiffness and the passive torque generated when the ankle was placed at different mean positions was linear. These results show that large variations in joint mechanics are possible even in the absence of voluntary muscle contraction. Moreover, these changes appear to be related to the torque generated when passive joint structures are stretched.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biomedical Engineering
- Orthopedics and Sports Medicine