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Linear Time Delay Methods and Stability Analyses of the Human Spine. Effects of Neuromuscular Reflex Response

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4 Author(s)

Linear stability methods were applied to a biomechanical model of the human musculoskeletal spine to investigate effects of reflex gain and reflex delay on stability. Equations of motion represented a dynamic 18 degrees-of-freedom rigid-body model with time-delayed reflexes. Optimal muscle activation levels were identified by minimizing metabolic power with the constraints of equilibrium and stability with zero reflex time delay. Muscle activation levels and associated muscle forces were used to find the delay margin, i.e., the maximum reflex delay for which the system was stable. Results demonstrated that stiffness due to antagonistic co-contraction necessary for stability declined with increased proportional reflex gain. Reflex delay limited the maximum acceptable proportional reflex gain, i.e., long reflex delay required smaller maximum reflex gain to avoid instability. As differential reflex gain increased, there was a small increase in acceptable reflex delay. However, differential reflex gain with values near intrinsic damping caused the delay margin to approach zero. Forward-dynamic simulations of the fully nonlinear time-delayed system verified the linear results. The linear methods accurately found the delay margin below which the nonlinear system was asymptotically stable. These methods may aid future investigations in the role of reflexes in musculoskeletal stability.

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Neural Systems and Rehabilitation Engineering, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:16 ,  Issue: 4 )