Stiffness, viscosity, and upper-limb inertia about the glenohumeral abduction axis

Li Qun Zhang*, Gregory H. Portland, Guangzhi Wang, Carl A. Diraimondo, Gordon W. Nuber, Mark K. Bowen, Ronald W. Hendrix

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


To evaluate the dynamic properties of the shoulder and understand how they are controlled by the central nervous system, glenohumeral-joint stiffness and viscosity and upper-limb incrtia were quantificd under various levels of muscle contraction in sevcn healthy human subjects. Through a cast attachment, the upper limb was perturbed in a precise pattern by a computer-controlled servomotor to manifest the dynamic properties of the joint. The recorded joint position and torque werc used to estimate joint stiffness and viscosity and upper-limb inertia. With moderate muscle contraction. the stiffness and viscosity increased scveral fold. A stiffer shoulder joint associated with stronger muscle contraction made the shoulder more stable and protected it from potential injuries during strenuous tasks. Joint viscosity, especially the stronger viscous damping associated with more strenuous contraction, smoothed shoulder movement and stabilized the joint. From the control viewpoint, the glenohumeral joint responded to the central nervous system more quickly with increasing muscle contraction, which was useful during strenuous tasks. On the other hand, the central nervous system controlled stiffness and viscosity synchronously so that it dealt with only a ncarly constant damping ratio of the joint over various levels of contraction, which simplified its task substantially. This approach quantificd the dynamic and static properties of the shoulder under various levels of contraction more accurately and completely than a manual test, and it can potentially be uscd to evaluate changes in these properties caused by musculoskelctal injuries and their surgical treatments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)94-100
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Orthopaedic Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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