Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

ASME Journal of Biomechanical Engineering



Finite element (FE) modeling and multibody dynamics have traditionally been applied separately to the domains of tissue mechanics and musculoskeletal movements, respectively. Simultaneous simulation of both domains is needed when interactions between tissue and movement are of interest, but this has remained largely impractical due to high computational cost.

Method of Approach

Here we present a method for concurrent simulation of tissue and movement, in which state of the art methods are used in each domain, and communication occurs via a surrogate modeling system based on locally weighted regression. The surrogate model only performs FE simulations when regression from previous results is not within a user-specified tolerance. For proof of concept and to illustrate feasibility, the methods were demonstrated on an optimization of jumping movement using a planar musculoskeletal model coupled to a FE model of the foot. To test the relative accuracy of the surrogate model outputs against those of the FE model, a single forward dynamics simulation was performed with FE calls at every integration step and compared with a corresponding simulation with the surrogate model included. Neural excitations obtained from the jump height optimization were used for this purpose and root mean square (RMS) difference between surrogate and FE model outputs (ankle force and moment, peak contact pressure and peak von Mises stress) were calculated.


Optimization of jump height required 1800 iterations of the movement simulation, each requiring thousands of time steps. The surrogate modeling system only used the FE model in 5% of time steps, i.e. a 95% reduction of computation time. Errors introduced by the surrogate model were less than 1 mm in jump height and RMS errors of less than 2 N in ground reaction force, 0.25 Nm in ankle moment, and 10 kPa in peak tissue stress.


Adaptive surrogate modeling based on local regression allows efficient concurrent simulations of tissue mechanics and musculoskeletal movement.


This study is supported by the National Institutes of Health Grant No. 1 R01 EB006735-01.