Measurement of the screw-home motion of the knee is sensitive to errors in axis alignment

Stephen J. Piazza, Peter R. Cavanagh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

186 Scopus citations


Measurements of joint angles during motion analysis are subject to error caused by kinematic crosstalk, that is, one joint rotation (e.g., flexion) being interpreted as another (e.g., abduction). Kinematic crosstalk results from the chosen joint coordinate system being misaligned with the axes about which rotations are assumed to occur. The aim of this paper is to demonstrate that measurement of the so-called 'screw-home' motion of the human knee, in which axial rotation and extension are coupled, is especially prone to errors due to crosstalk. The motions of two different two-segment mechanical linkages were examined to study the effects of crosstalk. The segments of the first linkage (NSH) were connected by a revolute joint, but the second linkage (SH) incorporated gearing that caused 15°of screw-home rotation to occur with 90°knee flexion. It was found that rotating the flexion axis (inducing crosstalk) could make linkage NSH appear to exhibit a screw-home motion and that a different rotation of the flexion axis could make linkage SH apparently exhibit pure flexion. These findings suggest that the measurement of screw-home rotation may be strongly influenced by errors in the location of the flexion axis. The magnitudes of these displacements of the flexion axis were consistent with the inter-observer variability seen when five experienced observers defined the flexion axis by palpating the medial and lateral femoral epicondyles. Care should be taken when interpreting small internal-external rotations and abduction-adduction angles to ensure that they are not the products of kinematic crosstalk. Copyright (C) 2000 Elsevier Science Ltd.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1029-1034
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Biomechanics
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2000

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

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


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