Accuracy of the functional method of hip joint center location: Effects of limited motion and varied implementation

Stephen J. Piazza, Noriaki Okita, Peter R. Cavanagh

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149 Scopus citations


Accurate location of the hip joint center is essential for computation of hip kinematics and kinetics as well as for determination of the moment arms of muscles crossing the hip. The functional method of hip joint center location involves fitting a pelvis-fixed sphere to the path traced by a thigh-fixed point while a subject performs hip motions; the center of this sphere is the hip joint center. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the potential accuracy of the functional method and the dependence of its accuracy on variations in its implementation and the amount of available hip motion. The motions of a mechanical linkage were studied to isolate the factors of interest, removing errors due to skin movement and the palpation of bony landmarks that are always present in human studies. It was found that reducing the range of hip motion from 30° to 15° did significantly increase hip joint center location errors, but that restricting motion to a single plane did not. The magnitudes of these errors, however, even in the least accurate cases, were smaller than those previously reported for either the functional method or other methods based on pelvis measurements of living subjects and cadaver specimens. Neither increasing the number of motion data observations nor analyzing the motion of a single thigh marker (rather than the centroid of multiple markers) was found to significantly increase error. The results of this study (1) imply that the limited range of motion that is often evident in subjects with hip pathology does not preclude accurate determination of the hip joint center when the functional method is used; and (2) provide guidelines for the use of the functional method in human subjects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)967-973
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Biomechanics
Issue number7
StatePublished - 2001

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biophysics
  • Rehabilitation
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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