A multi-subject evaluation of uncertainty in anatomical landmark location on shoulder kinematic description

Joseph E. Langenderfer, Paul J. Rullkoetter, Amy G. Mell, Peter J. Laz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


An accurate assessment of shoulder kinematics is useful for understanding healthy normal and pathological mechanics. Small variability in identifying and locating anatomical landmarks (ALs) has potential to affect reported shoulder kinematics. The objectives of this study were to quantify the effect of landmark location variability on scapular and humeral kinematic descriptions for multiple subjects using probabilistic analysis methods, and to evaluate the consistency in results across multiple subjects. Data from 11 healthy subjects performing humeral elevation in the scapular plane were used to calculate Euler angles describing humeral and scapular kinematics. Probabilistic analyses were performed for each subject to simulate uncertainty in the locations of 13 upper-extremity ALs. For standard deviations of 4 mm in landmark location, the analysis predicted Euler angle envelopes between the 1 and 99 percentile bounds of up to 16.6°. While absolute kinematics varied with the subject, the average 1-99% kinematic ranges for the motion were consistent across subjects and sensitivity factors showed no statistically significant differences between subjects. The description of humeral kinematics was most sensitive to the location of landmarks on the thorax, while landmarks on the scapula had the greatest effect on the description of scapular elevation. The findings of this study can provide a better understanding of kinematic variability, which can aid in making accurate clinical diagnoses and refining kinematic measurement techniques.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)211-216
Number of pages6
JournalComputer Methods in Biomechanics and Biomedical Engineering
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2009


  • Anatomical landmark uncertainty
  • Kinematics
  • Shoulder
  • Variability


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