Biomechanics applied to Engineering

Biomechanics is one of the six specialized areas of the Biomedical Engineering Research Centre (CREB UPC), located in the Barcelona School of Industrial Engineering (ETSEIB). We conduct research on the biomechanics of human movement, specifically on the analysis and dynamic simulation of movement, and on the design of robotic devices for the rehabilitation of people with reduced mobility. We develop technologies that can be applied to the orthopedic and shoe industry, in hospitals, and in centres for high performance sports, among others.

Currently, we are working on the following areas:

  • The capture, analysis and dynamic simulation of human movement. Gait analysis of healthy and pathological gait.
  • The development of multi-body anthropometric models for the dynamic analysis and calculation of muscle forces during movement.
  • The simulation and design of robotic devices for the rehabilitation of people with reduced mobility. These include active orthoses to help people with spinal cord injury.
  • The prediction of joint contact forces in the human body, using non-invasive techniques.
  • The analysis of different aspects related to shoe comfort.
  • Applications of the analysis of human movement in sport.

On the basis of our knowledge and experience, we offer developments and technologies to companies that can help them to improve their systems or to evaluate their devices. These include:  

  • Kinematic and dynamic measurements of human movement, using equipment such as an optical system for capturing movement called NaturalPoint OptiTrack with 18 FLEX V100:R2 infrared cameras, AMTI Accugait force plates for measuring the contact force between foot and ground, a 16-channel Biometrics SX230-1000 electromyography (EMG) system, and Tekscan F-Scan pressure insoles.
  • Dynamic analysis of human movement based on modelling the human body using multi-body system dynamics techniques, inverse dynamics analysis of movement (calculation of muscle forces and torques), simulation of human movement, and the analysis of parameters that define shoe comfort.
  • Mechanical design of assistive and rehabilitation devices based on the modelling and dynamic analysis of assistive devices, an analysis of interactions between people and devices, mechanical design, and the selection of standard components.

Our technological capabilities are the result of work on competitive and corporate projects. This has led to the development of an active orthosis (an exterior robotic prosthesis) for the knee, ankle and foot, to help people with incomplete spinal cord injury to walk. The device has electrical motors that substitute the disabled muscles and sensors that enable automatic control of the actuators. The research was carried out in collaboration with the Hospital de La Coruña, and the universities of La Coruña and Extremadura.

Another project was carried out for the CAMPER shoe company. In this project, we used various measurements to study the physical interaction between shoe and user. The measurements enabled us to determine the factors that had the most influence on how comfortable shoes are for users when they are walking.
Our work is based on multidisciplinary research, and on collaboration with companies and entities that need solutions based on the application of engineering to biomedicine. We dedicate all of our resources and efforts to this endeavor, and with the help of our partners we develop applications that contribute to improving quality of life.

 Josep Maria Font Llagunes
Director of the Biomechanics Area

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