Estimating the position of the bones from optical motion capture data is a challenge associated with human movement analysis. Bone pose estimation techniques such as the Point Cluster Technique (PCT) and simulations of movement through software packages such as OpenSim are used to minimize soft tissue artifact and estimate skeletal position; however, using different methods for analysis may produce differing kinematic results which could lead to differences in clinical interpretation such as a misclassification of normal or pathological gait. This study evaluated the differences present in knee joint kinematics as a result of calculating joint angles using various techniques. We calculated knee joint kinematics from experimental gait data using the standard PCT, the least squares approach in OpenSim applied to experimental marker data, and the least squares approach in OpenSim applied to the results of the PCT algorithm. Maximum and resultant RMS differences in knee angles were calculated between all techniques. We observed differences in flexion/extension, varus/valgus, and internal/external rotation angles between all approaches. The largest differences were between the PCT results and all results calculated using OpenSim. The RMS differences averaged nearly 5° for flexion/extension angles with maximum differences exceeding 15°. Average RMS differences were relatively small (< 1.08°) between results calculated within OpenSim, suggesting that the choice of marker weighting is not critical to the results of the least squares inverse kinematics calculations. The largest difference between techniques appeared to be a constant offset between the PCT and all OpenSim results, which may be due to differences in the definition of anatomical reference frames, scaling of musculoskeletal models, and/or placement of virtual markers within OpenSim. Different methods for data analysis can produce largely different kinematic results, which could lead to the misclassification of normal or pathological gait. Improved techniques to allow non-uniform scaling of generic models to more accurately reflect subject-specific bone geometries and anatomical reference frames may reduce differences between bone pose estimation techniques and allow for comparison across gait analysis platforms.

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