Patients with cerebral palsy (CP) usually have muscle weakness resulting in poor muscle control, which makes walking difficult. Given that any clinical intervention aims to improve muscle control, it is crucial to monitor the changes in the muscles during gait. To date however, there has been no means with which to measure muscle characteristics (e.g. muscle force and work) directly and effectively, especially during walking, due to both technological and ethical reasons.
Recently, computer simulation of the musculoskeletal system has been employed to estimate muscle conditions during walking. From such simulation, muscle parameters such as muscle force, work, and power can be obtained. This technique is non-invasive and provides a potential method to monitor muscle status during walking in CP patients.
Two pilot studies were conducted in order to apply computer simulation in clinical practice (Ref 1-2). The early results are encouraging for employing this technique in the investigation of gait analysis of children. However, many problems still remain unresolved, for example, models with only two-dimensional (2D) movements instead of normal three-dimensional (3D) walking. Therefore, there are many challenges in applying the new technique in clinical practice.
The objectives of this project are to: (1) Develop existing 2D-models into 3D equivalents, making the models fit individual patients as closely as possible.
(2) Validate the models using gait data obtained from children with CP, thus making the simulations accurate as possible to particular environmental situations. The ultimate aim of the project is to build a feasible model to estimate muscle status for children with CP during walking.
The candidate should have a background in biomedical engineering and computer techniques.