Course Unit Page


This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.

Good health and well-being Industry, innovation and infrastructure

Academic Year 2021/2022

Learning outcomes

The student learns to apply the theoretical tools of applied mechanics for the analysis and modeling of biomechanical systems, with particular reference to the kinematic, static and dynamic problems of constrained body systems. In particular, he acquires skills in the modeling of biological systems using rigid and deformable elements; acquires the skills to develop complex models with proprietary computational codes and multibody software; extends this knowledge to the kinematic and dynamic design of mechanical medical devices, such as prostheses, orthoses and fixators.

Course contents

- Mechanics applied to the analysis and synthesis of spatial and constrained mechanical systems for biomechanical applications. The human body as a spatial mechanism: rigid bodies, constraints, deformable elements (ligament structures and contacts), actuators (muscular structures). Orthopedic devices: mechanics and mechanisms applied to the human body.

- Elements of space kinematics. Coordinate systems for the description of the spatial motion of a body.

- Representation of bodies through sets of points. Natural coordinates. Application to stereophotogrammetric systems.

- Synthesis of mechanisms in plane and space: main problems in biomechanics; methods based on precision points; methods based on Burmester theory; optimization; other techniques.

- Joint modeling: synthesis of equivalent mechanisms; modeling of constraints in space; contact between bodies.

- Definition of multi-body models of the human body. Kinematic analysis of constrained systems of spatial bodies in open and closed chain. Kinematic analysis of the human body.

- Modeling of ligaments and muscles; integration in multibody models.

- Elements of statics and dynamics

- Static and dynamic analyses of constrained systems of bodies in open and closed chain. Static and dynamic analysis of the human body.

- Application to orthopedic devices. Analysis and synthesis of prosthetic limbs, exoskeletons, fixators in open and closed chain. Analysis and synthesis of joint prostheses.

- Mechanisms with deformable bodies (compliant): synthesis of kinematic pairs with deformable elements; synthesis of mechanisms with deformable pairs; distributed elasticity mechanisms; realization of deformable pairs.

- Applications of deformable body mechanisms: orthoses; surgical instruments.

- Actuators for biomechanical applications: passive (passive joint prostheses) and active (active joint prostheses, exoskeletons) linear actuators; electric actuators; artificial muscles.


- Programming of analysis and synthesis codes.

- Use of simulation software.


Material provided via "Virtuale". The lessons will also be recorded and made available to those enrolled in the course.

Teaching methods

The course consists of lectures and exercises. Some exercises will also be assigned to be carried out independently.

The lessons provide the theoretical basis for the analysis and synthesis of constrained systems, applied to biomechanical systems. Some physiological aspects are recalled (treated in other courses), to deepen the computational and modeling aspects. Some problems of kinematic and functional design of orthopedic devices are also addressed, also focusing on unconventional mechanisms and actuators.

The exercises put into practice some of the theoretical aspects covered in the lectures. We try to underline the importance of both the development of proprietary code and the use of existing software, up to show how to combine the two techniques by interfacing existing musculoskeletal models with proprietary models.

The assigned exercises, in addition to constituting a basis for evaluation, are designed to allow students to independently develop some concepts seen both in the theoretical lessons and during the exercises.

Assessment methods

The exam consists of two parts. In the first part, the exercises to be performed independently will be presented and commented on. The results obtained and the correctness of the procedure will be evaluated.

The second part is made up of theoretical questions on the topics of the course. Both general knowledge and computational aspects will be verified.

Teaching tools

Material prepared by the teacher on "Virtuale" will be provided. The lessons will also be recorded and made available to those enrolled in the course.

Furthermore, free software will be used to carry out the exercises. Further information will be provided during the course and on "Virtuale".

Office hours

See the website of Nicola Sancisi