Comparing dynamical systems concepts and techniques for biomechanical analysis

Article English OPEN
van Emmerik, Richard E.A. ; Ducharme, Scott W. ; Amado, Avelino C. ; Hamill, Joseph (2016)
  • Publisher: Elsevier BV
  • Journal: Journal of Sport and Health Science, volume 5, issue 1, pages 3-13 (issn: 2095-2546)
  • Related identifiers: doi: 10.1016/j.jshs.2016.01.013
  • Subject: Complexity | Dynamical systems | GV557-1198.995 | Sports | Sports medicine | RC1200-1245 | Adaptability | Variability | Nonlinear dynamics | Stability

Traditional biomechanical analyses of human movement are generally derived from linear mathematics. While these methods can be useful in many situations, they do not describe behaviors in human systems that are predominately nonlinear. For this reason, nonlinear analysis methods based on a dynamical systems approach have become more prevalent in recent literature. These analysis techniques have provided new insights into how systems (1) maintain pattern stability, (2) transition into new states, and (3) are governed by short- and long-term (fractal) correlational processes at different spatio-temporal scales. These different aspects of system dynamics are typically investigated using concepts related to variability, stability, complexity, and adaptability. The purpose of this paper is to compare and contrast these different concepts and demonstrate that, although related, these terms represent fundamentally different aspects of system dynamics. In particular, we argue that variability should not uniformly be equated with stability or complexity of movement. In addition, current dynamic stability measures based on nonlinear analysis methods (such as the finite maximal Lyapunov exponent) can reveal local instabilities in movement dynamics, but the degree to which these local instabilities relate to global postural and gait stability and the ability to resist external perturbations remains to be explored. Finally, systematic studies are needed to relate observed reductions in complexity with aging and disease to the adaptive capabilities of the movement system and how complexity changes as a function of different task constraints.
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