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Applied Research in Musculoskeletal Simulation (ARMS) Lab

Picture of ARMS Lab Group Members

Research Objective

Activities of daily living involve the coordinated control of multiple joints of the upper limb. We use our arms and hands within an extensive functional workspace, and we complete tasks that require everything from intricate manipulation to raw strength. As a first example of the complexity of our arm movements, just the orientation of the limb with respect to gravity varies considerably during basic daily tasks (compare typing on a keyboard, putting on shoes, and reaching for an item on an overhead shelf). The human hand provides a remarkable interface with our environment, allowing self-care, grasp and release, communication, and the ability to connect with other people. The loss of hand and arm function presents a severe disability.

The Applied Research in Musculoskeletal Simulation (ARMS) Lab uses both computer simulation techniques and experimental methods to investigate how we move and control our arms and our hands. The foundation for our work is the development of biomechanical models that accurately represent the mechanical actions of the muscles in the upper limb. Computer simulations are integrated with quantitative anatomy, in vivo laser diffraction, medical imaging, and dynamometry to better characterize the basic functional capabilities of individual muscles and to quantify how these capabilities are altered by physical impairments or surgical interventions. Given the intricate anatomy of the upper limb, we are interested in understanding how musculoskeletal design contributes to limb mechanics. We are especially motivated to apply this research to help improve function following injuries and impairments that affect the upper limb. A special focus in our laboratory is surgical restoration of hand function following tetraplegia.

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