The many muscles crossing the elbow joint allow for its motions to be created from different combinations of muscular activations. Muscles are strictly contractile elements and the joints they surround rely on varying loads from opposing antagonists for stability and movement. In designing a control system to actuate an elbow in a realistic manner, unidirectional, tendon-like actuation and muscle co-activation must be considered in order to successfully control the elbow’s two degrees of freedom. Also important is the multifunctionality of certain muscles, such as the biceps brachii, which create moments impacting both degrees of freedom: flexion / extension and pronation / supination. This paper seeks to develop and implement control algorithms on an elbow joint motion simulator that actuates cadaveric elbow specimens via four major muscles that cross the elbow joint. The algorithms were validated using an anatomically-realistic mechanical elbow. Clinically-meaningful results, such as the evaluation of radial head implants, can only be obtained under repeatable, realistic conditions; therefore, physiologic motions must be created by the application of appropriate loads. This is achieved by including load control on the muscles’ actuators as well as displacement control on both flexion / extension and supination / pronation.

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