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Biomechanical modelling of physical loading for military activities

Kessels, I.P.J. (2020) Biomechanical modelling of physical loading for military activities.

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Abstract:Military tasks are often complicated by additional load carriage, such as body armour, weapon systems and provisions. These extra loads increase the physical load on soldiers and reduce their effectiveness. Main consequences are reduced mobility and speed, the inability to perform a task, increased energy expenditure and musculoskeletal injuries (MSI). Most researches into the effects of load carriage on human physical performance have been experimental research. Unfortunately, experimental data make it hard to get insights in the underlying mechanisms of these consequences of additional loads on the performance, while this is often desired for planning of future military operations, when new clothes and equipment are purchased, or for the prevention of injuries. In this study, a method was developed to assess the effect of physical loading, in particular weight, on human physical performance using a biomechanical model. Completion times, heart rate and kinematic data of ten subjects were collected, while they performed an agility run with different loading conditions. Additional loads were varied from 0 kg to 15.6 and 31.2 kg. A musculoskeletal (MSK) model driven by the kinematic data sets computed energy expenditure (i.e. metabolic power and energy), muscle force and muscle contraction velocity. Results showed a significant effect of additional load on mean estimated metabolic power and estimated metabolic energy. The MSK model revealed that the carriage of increased external loads led to increases in muscle forces and decreases in muscle contraction velocities. Although, this did not lead to an increase in mean estimated metabolic power of the vastus lateralis muscle, we assumed that mean estimated metabolic power was increased in other muscles and that the combined effect of all muscles together led to the increase in mean estimated metabolic power of the fullbody. Additionally, it was found that based on one kinematic data set comparable predictions of energy expenditure could be made for the loading condition of 15.6 kg. In the case of 31.2 kg, the MSK model showed a slight overestimation, indicating that load carriage causes movement alterations. The increase in metabolic energy was associated with increased completion times. Future research should focus on validation of the presented method using the data of more subjects. Additionally, more physical performance metrics could be included in future research and the model could be made more subject-specific. Lastly, the role of fatigue on energy expenditure during the performance of an agility run should be investigated, because it is expected to play an important role in the physical performance of an agility run with load carriage.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:TNW: Science and Technology
Programme:Biomedical Engineering MSc (66226)
Link to this item:http://purl.utwente.nl/essays/80868
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