*BBSRC EASTBIO Programme* Development of biomechanically musculoskeletal models and its application in understanding of ageing process for health

The ageing process in health is one of main research topics currently and in the near future. The key icon for ageing in health is daily movements, e.g. walking. Sometime, people are unable to walk as normal because of various reasons, e.g. for the ageing in the elderly. As gait change indicates the ageing process, and thus it is important to look into how walking changes. So far, the updated motion capture system is capable of investigating gait in detail, e.g. the angles, forces, moments and powers in the joints during walking, but there is a lack of knowledge on how muscles and bones co-ordinately work and how much forces exist in the muscles and bones during gait with the ageing. Though a few of previous studies have explored muscle force and joint force during gait (Refs 1 and 2), there are many research questions remaining not solved.     

One of main questions is whether a musculoskeletal structure of an individual significantly affects muscle and skeletal forces at different ages. Currently, most of biomechanical studies employ general morphology or anthropology data (e.g. limb moment of inertia and muscle physical-across-section-area) to calculate biomechanical parameters without considering age factor, which might bring in unexpected errors to the calculations, given the fact that an individual in different age has her/his morphologically musculoskeletal structure changed.

This proposal aims to build musculoskeletal computer models which has customised data from individuals. The participants to be investigated will be the healthy with different age groups. Their morphologically musculoskeletal data will be accurately obtained using MRI/CT with traditional measurements. Their movements, e.g. walking gait and associated data, e.g. marker coordinates, ground reaction forces and electromyography will be acquired using the state of the art motion capture system in our institute. The models should be able to estimate muscle and bone forces during walking.

The outcomes from the proposal would address the questions of how muscle forces changes between individuals and between different age groups. The models would provide a new tool to and have potential applications in many fields, e.g. for assessing gait progress during the ageing for the elderly, for analysing sport injury and rehabilitation, and for predicting surgical results with virtual reality of treatment.                         

Except for these practical applications, this proposal also has its value in scientific and academic research. So far, the mechanism of how a musculoskeletal structure optimally works during movement has not been fully investigated. The proposed models could give us indications on whether a movement is optimal or not for an individually musculoskeletal structure, which would further indicate that we could design a customised exercise for individuals in the elderly.  

The proposed project is feasible as the reasons described as below. There are necessary device and equipment in our university and institute. Based in Ninewells Hospital and Medical School, Dundee, the Clinical Research Centre holds MRI and CT available for the project; in Institute of Motion Analysis and Research, there are Vicon motion capture system, force platform, electromyography measurement system with a group of staff in different expertise, including IT support, electronic/mechanical engineer, statistician, software programmer, etc. As supervisors, Dr Martin is an expert on computer graphing for space techniques and he will guide the student to extract accurately morphological data from MRI/CT; Dr Wang has many year experience in musculoskeletal computer modelling and motion analysis, and will work with the student in constructing specific musculoskeletal models (Refs 1 and 2).    

The ideal candidate should have a related degree/training in one or combination of anatomy, physiology, biology, biomechanics, computing, etc. The candidate should be keen to learn new knowledge and get new training in a different background of knowledge. 


Weijie Wang, Rami Abboud, Michael Gunther, Robin Crompton (2014) Analysis of joint force and torque for the human and non-human ape foot during bipedal walking with implications for the evolution of the foot. Journal of Anatomy, 225, 152-166.

Mansoor Jafri, Stuart Brown, Graham Arnold, Rami Abboud, Weijie Wang (2015). Kinematical analysis of the trunk, upper limbs and fingers during minimal access surgery when using an armrest. Ergonomics, 58(11) 1866-1877.


Dr Weijie Wang & Dr Iain Martin
Start Date: 
Monday, September 4, 2017
Application Closing Date: 
Sunday, April 30, 2017