PLoS Computational Biology (2018-07-01)

OpenSim: Simulating musculoskeletal dynamics and neuromuscular control to study human and animal movement.

  • Ajay Seth,
  • Jennifer L Hicks,
  • Thomas K Uchida,
  • Ayman Habib,
  • Christopher L Dembia,
  • James J Dunne,
  • Carmichael F Ong,
  • Matthew S DeMers,
  • Apoorva Rajagopal,
  • Matthew Millard,
  • Samuel R Hamner,
  • Edith M Arnold,
  • Jennifer R Yong,
  • Shrinidhi K Lakshmikanth,
  • Michael A Sherman,
  • Joy P Ku,
  • Scott L Delp

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 14, no. 7
p. e1006223


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Movement is fundamental to human and animal life, emerging through interaction of complex neural, muscular, and skeletal systems. Study of movement draws from and contributes to diverse fields, including biology, neuroscience, mechanics, and robotics. OpenSim unites methods from these fields to create fast and accurate simulations of movement, enabling two fundamental tasks. First, the software can calculate variables that are difficult to measure experimentally, such as the forces generated by muscles and the stretch and recoil of tendons during movement. Second, OpenSim can predict novel movements from models of motor control, such as kinematic adaptations of human gait during loaded or inclined walking. Changes in musculoskeletal dynamics following surgery or due to human-device interaction can also be simulated; these simulations have played a vital role in several applications, including the design of implantable mechanical devices to improve human grasping in individuals with paralysis. OpenSim is an extensible and user-friendly software package built on decades of knowledge about computational modeling and simulation of biomechanical systems. OpenSim's design enables computational scientists to create new state-of-the-art software tools and empowers others to use these tools in research and clinical applications. OpenSim supports a large and growing community of biomechanics and rehabilitation researchers, facilitating exchange of models and simulations for reproducing and extending discoveries. Examples, tutorials, documentation, and an active user forum support this community. The OpenSim software is covered by the Apache License 2.0, which permits its use for any purpose including both nonprofit and commercial applications. The source code is freely and anonymously accessible on GitHub, where the community is welcomed to make contributions. Platform-specific installers of OpenSim include a GUI and are available on