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Assistive device design using musculoskeletal models and simulations

Photo of Dr. Thomas Uchida

Dr. Thomas Uchida

Assistant Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Ottawa

March 21, 2023 14:30 - 15:30

Azrieli Theatre 302. In-person only (no video streaming or recording), Carleton University




Wearable assistive devices can prevent injury, improve recovery, and enhance athletic performance. Experimental design strategies are effective but expensive and time-consuming, and data alone provides little insight into the underlying mechanisms that determine a device’s effectiveness. Simulations help us understand human movement by providing biomechanical explanations for experimental observations, such as why ankle muscles are affected by an exoskeleton worn at the hip. Simulations can also accelerate development by enabling rapid exploration of proposed devices so that experiments can focus on refining the most promising designs. Understanding and predicting interactions between mechatronic devices and the body’s neural, muscular, and skeletal systems is challenging: even ostensibly simple movements like walking involve precise coordination of dozens of muscles. In this talk, I will provide an overview of how we model musculoskeletal systems, generate simulations of movement, and predict the effectiveness of assistive devices.


Thomas Uchida received his Ph.D. in Systems Design Engineering from the University of Waterloo (2011). He then worked in the Bioengineering Department at Stanford University as a member of the research and development team for the OpenSim modelling and simulation software (2012–2018). He returned to Canada in 2018 to join the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Ottawa as an Assistant Professor. He is co-author of Biomechanics of Movement: The Science of Sports, Robotics, and Rehabilitation (MIT Press, 2021), an introductory book that examines human and animal movement through the lens of mechanics.

Last updated March 20, 2023

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