Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics (PhD)

Administrative Home Department

Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics

Advisor 1

Mo Rastgaar

Advisor 2

Ye Sun

Committee Member 1

Nina Mahmoudian

Committee Member 2

Timothy Havens


The purpose of this research is to investigate the relationship between the mechanical impedance of the human ankle and the corresponding lower extremity muscle activity. Three experimental studies were performed to measure the ankle impedance about multiple degrees of freedom (DOF), while the ankle was subjected to different loading conditions and different levels of muscle activity. The first study determined the non-loaded ankle impedance in the sagittal, frontal, and transverse anatomical planes while the ankle was suspended above the ground. The subjects actively co-contracted their agonist and antagonistic muscles to various levels, measured using electromyography (EMG). An Artificial Neural Network (ANN) was implemented to characterize the relationship between the EMG and non-loaded ankle impedance in 3-DOF. The next two studies determined the ankle impedance and muscle activity during standing, while the foot and ankle were subjected to ground perturbations in the sagittal and frontal planes. These studies investigate the performance of subject-dependent models, aggregated models, and the feasibility of a generic, subject-independent model to predict ankle impedance based on the muscle activity of any person. Several regression models, including Least Square, Support Vector Machine, Gaussian Process Regression, and ANN, and EMG feature extraction techniques were explored. The resulting subject-dependent and aggregated models were able to predict ankle impedance with reasonable accuracy. Furthermore, preliminary efforts toward a subject-independent model showed promising results for the design of an EMG-impedance model that can predict ankle impedance using new subjects. This work contributes to understanding the relationship between the lower extremity muscles and the mechanical impedance of the ankle in multiple DOF. Applications of this work could be used to improve user intent recognition for the control of active ankle-foot prostheses.