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Computer modeling, simulation and optimization are powerful tools that have seen increased use in biomechanics research. Dynamic optimizations can be categorized as either data-tracking or predictive problems. The data-tracking approach has been used extensively to address human movement problems of clinical relevance. The predictive approach also holds great promise, but has seen limited use in clinical applications. Enhanced software tools would facilitate the application of predictive musculoskeletal simulations to clinically-relevant research. The open-source software OpenSim provides tools for generating tracking simulations but not predictive simulations. However, OpenSim includes an extensive application programming interface that permits extending its capabilities with scripting languages such as MATLAB. In the work presented here, we combine the computational tools provided by MATLAB with the musculoskeletal modeling capabilities of OpenSim to create a framework for generating predictive simulations of musculoskeletal movement based on direct collocation optimal control techniques. In many cases, the direct collocation approach can be used to solve optimal control problems considerably faster than traditional shooting methods. Cyclical and discrete movement problems were solved using a simple 1 degree of freedom musculoskeletal model and a model of the human lower limb, respectively. The problems could be solved in reasonable amounts of time (several seconds to 1–2 hours) using the open-source IPOPT solver. The problems could also be solved using the fmincon solver that is included with MATLAB, but the computation times were excessively long for all but the smallest of problems. The performance advantage for IPOPT was derived primarily by exploiting sparsity in the constraints Jacobian. The framework presented here provides a powerful and flexible approach for generating optimal control simulations of musculoskeletal movement using OpenSim and MATLAB. This should allow researchers to more readily use predictive simulation as a tool to address clinical conditions that limit human mobility.
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Lee, Leng-Feng and Umberger, Brian R., "Generating Optimal Control Simulations of Musculoskeletal Movement using OpenSim and MATLAB" (2016). PeerJ. 570.