Multibody kinematic optimization is frequently used to assess shoulder kinematics during manual wheelchair (MWC) propulsion, but multiple kinematics chains are available. It is hypothesized that these different kinematic chains affect marker tracking, shoulder kinematics, and resulting musculotendon (MT) lengths. In this study, shoulder kinematics and MT lengths obtained from four shoulder kinematic chains (open-loop thorax-clavicle-scapula-humerus (M1), closed-loop with contact ellipsoid (M2), scapula rhythm from regression equations (M3), and a single ball-and- socket joint between the thorax and the humerus (M4) were compared. Right-side shoulder kinematics from seven subjects were obtained with 34 reflective markers and a scapula locator using an optoelectronic motion capture system while propelling on a MWC simulator. Data were processed based on the four models. The results showed the impact of shoulder kinematic chains on all studied variables. Marker reconstruction errors were found to be similar between M1 and M2 and lower than for M3 and M4. Few degrees-of-freedom (DoF) were noticeably different between M1 and M2, but all shoulder DoFs were significantly affected between M1 and M4. As a consequence of differences in joint kinematics, MT lengths were affected by the kinematic chain definition. The contact ellipsoid (M2) was found as a good trade-off between marker tracking and penetration avoidance of the scapula. The regression-based model (M3) was less efficient due to limited humerus elevation during MWC propulsion, as well as the ball-and-socket model (M4) which appeared not suitable for upper limbs activities, including MWC propulsion.

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