A Quantitative Analysis of Pendular Motion of the Lower Leg in Spastic Human Subjects

David C. Lin, William Z Rymer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

69 Scopus citations


The purpose of this study was to examine gravity-induced oscillations of the lower leg in normal and spastic subjects, with a view towards evaluating a clinical test of spasticity called the “pendulum” test. Motivations for studying the pendulum test were to determine if realistic aspects of spasticity and neuromuscular control could be incorporated into a description of the motion, and to better understand the underlying neurophysiological disturbances in spasticity. For passive limb motion (in which no reflex excitation occurred), a second-order linear model did not provide an adequate description of the motion for either spastic or normal legs. Instead, system equations including nonlinear mechanical properties simulating asymmetries in the swing and amplitude dependent variations in stiffness and damping provided a more accurate description. For spastic limb motion (in which reflex excitation did occur), accurate simulation required components accounting for abnormal reflex activation, coinciding with the time course of EMG activation. These included increased stiffness and damping with their gains related to reflex EMG magnitude, and changes in the rest length of the stiffness. Comparison of numerical solutions of the equations with experimental data showed our nonlinear model simulated the motion accurately, with the variance accounted for usually exceeding 90%.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)906-918
Number of pages13
JournalIEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering
Issue number9
StatePublished - Jan 1 1991

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomedical Engineering

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