Accurate hip joint center (HJC) location is critical when studying hip joint biomechanics. The HJC is often determined from anatomical methods, but functional methods are becoming increasingly popular. Several studies have examined these methods using simulations and in vivo gait data, but none has studied high-range of motion activities, such a chair rise, nor has HJC prediction been compared between males and females. Furthermore, anterior superior iliac spine (ASIS) marker visibility during chair rise can be problematic, requiring a sacral cluster as an alternative proximal segment; but functional HJC has not been explored using this approach. For this study, the quality of HJC measurement was based on the joint gap error (JGE), which is the difference in global HJC between proximal and distal reference segments. The aims of the present study were to: (1) determine if JGE varies between pelvic and sacral referenced HJC for functional and anatomical methods, (2) investigate which functional calibration motion results in the lowest JGE and if the JGE varies depending on movement type (gait versus chair rise) and gender, and (3) assess whether the functional HJC calibration results in lower JGE than commonly used anatomical approaches and if it varies with movement type and gender. Data were collected on 39 healthy adults (19 males and 20 females) aged 14–50 yr old. Participants performed four hip “calibration” tests (arc, cross, star, and star-arc), as well as gait and chair rise (activities of daily living (ADL)). Two common anatomical methods were used to estimate HJC and were compared to HJC computed using a published functional method with the calibration motions above, when using pelvis or sacral cluster as the proximal reference. For ADL trials, functional methods resulted in lower JGE (12–19 mm) compared to anatomical methods (13–34 mm). It was also found that women had significantly higher JGE compared to men and JGE was significantly higher for chair rise compared to gait, across all methods. JGE for sacrum referenced HJC was consistently higher than for the pelvis, but only by 2.5 mm. The results indicate that dynamic hip range of movement and gender are significant factors in HJC quality. The findings also suggest that a rigid sacral cluster for HJC estimation is an acceptable alternative for relying solely on traditional pelvis markers.

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