A new method for estimating joint parameters from motion data

Michael H. Schwartz, Adam Rozumalski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

297 Scopus citations


Joint centers and axes of rotation (joint parameters) are central to all branches of movement analysis. In gait analysis, the standard protocol used to determine hip and knee joint parameters is prone to errors arising from palpation, anthropometric regression equations, and misplaced alignment devices. Several alternative methods have been proposed, but to date none have been shown to be accurate and reliable enough for use in the clinical setting. This article describes a new method for joint parameter estimation. The new method can be summarized as follows: (i) the motions of two adjacent segments spanning a single joint are tracked, (ii) the axis of rotation between every pair of observed segment configurations is computed, (iii) the most likely intersection of all axes (effective joint center) and most likely orientation of the axes (effective joint axis) is found. Initial validation of the method was conducted on a hinged mechanical analog and a single healthy adult subject. For the analog, the center was found to be within 3.8mm of the geometric center and 2.0° of the geometric axis (standard deviation). For the adult subject, hip centers varied on the order of 1-3mm, knee centers by 3-9mm, and knee axes by 2.0°. The results suggest that the new method is an objective, precise, and practical alternative to the standard clinical approach.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)107-116
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Biomechanics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2005

Bibliographical note

Copyright 2008 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Axis of rotation
  • Center of rotation
  • Gait analysis
  • Joint center
  • Precision

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