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An automated system was designed to study the complete flexibility functions of the knee in vitro. The system allows five degrees of freedom with flexion angle being fixed, although adjustable from 0 to 45°. Loads corresponding to each of the five motions can be applied independently and in any combination. The effect of weight bearing on knee flexibility can also be studied by including axial force as one of the five loads. The relative motions are accurately measured with linear and rotary variable differential transformers (LVDTs and RVDTs), and the loads are measured with strain gage transducers. The system is digitally controlled with a closed feedback loop, allowing for any combination of programmed loads. A control algorithm on an IBM PC/AT monitors the loads on each axis and continuously adjusts stepping motors to follow programmed loads correctly. The machine coordinate system corresponds to clinically accepted definitions of motion yet retains sequence independence for rotations. Results demonstrate the repeatability of using a functional definition of axis placement to align the leg within the machine and the utility of the full flexibility functions of the knee, notably in the determination of significant load interactions and coupled motions.
biomechanics, knee, flexibility, automated system, five degrees of freedom
Research assistant, Biomedical Engineering Graduate Group, University of California, Davis, CA
Professor, University of California, Davis, CA
Lecturer, University of California, Davis, CA