Conference article

Musculoskeletal Modeling of the Hand and Contact Object in Modelica

Shashank Swaminathan
Novi, Michigan, USA

Johan Andreasson
Modelon KK, Japan

Download article

Published in: Proceedings of the 12th International Modelica Conference, Prague, Czech Republic, May 15-17, 2017

Linköping Electronic Conference Proceedings 132:81, p. 745-754

Show more +

Published: 2017-07-04

ISBN: 978-91-7685-575-1

ISSN: 1650-3686 (print), 1650-3740 (online)


The paper’s primary goal is to develop a mathematical model that could be used towards the development and improvement of orthotic assist gloves. The model is constructed using component based modeling in the object-oriented declarative language Modelica, specifically the MultiBody Modelica library. Multiple hand models currently do exist; however, they are mainly causal, and require separate development and validation of mathematical solvers before use. By using Modelica, the model is constructed from the system’s physical equations, thereby relieving issues regarding validity of the model’s computational equations; the acausality inherent in Modelica allows for model development that more closely mirrors relations in the physical world. The model is scoped to be able to model the kinematics and dynamics of the hand when grasping a spherical object – both bone structure and muscle geometry and actuation are simplifications based off anatomy literature. The contact model is developed as a separate component from the hand system. The main design goal of the contact model is to represent the characteristics of a relatively rigid object that still maintains a degree of friction and pliability on the surface layer.

The main two grasps tested in the paper are the prehensile and precision grasps (powerful and dexterous grasps). The muscle actuation profiles per each finger are adjusted until the desired dynamic profile is achieved for each type of grasp. The main data points of interests are the joint angles and contact forces for each finger. Further verification of the model is done using the animation automatically generated by the tool. Simulation testing results indicate that the model can successfully simulate contractions at all levels of abstraction of the hand’s components (basic bone-joint components, finger components, and the overall hand system). The results also indicate that both prehensile and precision grasps are possible, given appropriate muscle actuation and finger orientation parameter values.


Musculoskeletal model of hand; Modelica; grasp model; orthotic gloves


Cutkosky, M. R., & Howe, R. D. (1990). Human Grasp Choice and Robotic Grasp Analysis. In S. T. Venkataraman & T. Iberall (Eds.), Dextrous Robot Hands (pp. 5-31). Springer-Verlag.

Griffin, W. B., Findley, R. P., Turner, M. L., & Cutkosky, M. R. (2000). Calibration and Mapping of a Human Hand for Dexterous Telemanipulation. ASME IMECE 2000 Conference Haptic Interfaces for Virtual Environments and Teleoperator Systems Symposium. Retrieved from

Adler A, “GM-NASA Space Robot Partnhership brings “Power” Glove to Life”, GM Corporate News announcement, 2017 July 6th,

Linn D. M., Ihrke A. C., Diftler M. A., “Human grasp assist device and method of use”, US Patent No. 8255079 B2, 2012.

Polygerinos P, , Galloway K. C., Savage E., Herman M., O’ Donnell K, and Walsh J. C., “Soft Robotic Glove for Hand Rehabilitation and Task Specific Training”, 2015 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation, May 2015, doi:

Yanchev T, “Power Assist Gloves”, 2015

van Nierop, O. A., van der Helm, A., Overbeeke, K. J., & Djajadiningrat, T. J.P. (2007). A natural human hand model. The Visual Computer, 24(1).

Gustus, A., Stillfried, G., Visser, J., Jörntell, H., & van der Smagt, P. (2012). Human hand modelling: kinematics, dynamics, applications. Biological Cybernetics, 106(11).

Wan Tarmizi, W. F. B., Elamvazuthi, I., & Begam, M. (2009). Kinematic and Dynamic Modeling of a MultiFingered robot Hand. International Journal of Basic & Applied Sciences, 9(10). Retrieved from

Marieb, E. N. (2000). Essentials of human anatomy and physiology (6th ed.). San Francisco: Benjamin Cummings. Otter, M., Elmquist H, Mattson S. E., “The New Modelica Multibody Library”, Proceedings of the 3rd International Modelica Conference, Linkopig, 2003

Tiller, M. (2014). Modelica by Example. Retrieved from

Modelica® (2013) - A Unified Object-Oriented Language for Physical Systems Modeling, Language Specification

Hicks J. L., Uchida T.K., Seth A., Rajagopal A., Delp S.L., “Is my model good enough? Best practices for verification and validation of musculoskeletal models and simulation environment”, Journal of Bioengineering, Vol 137, Feb 2015.

Radder, B., Kottink AIR, van der Vaart N, et. al, “Usercentred input for a wearable soft-robotic glove supporting hand function in daily life”, 2015 IEEE International Conference on Rehabilitation Robotics (ICORR), Singapore, 2015, doi:

Dymola (2017) Copyright © Dassault Systèmes, 1992-2016

SystemModeler (2015) Copyright © 2015 Wolfram Research, Inc.

OpenModelica (2016) Copyright Open Source Modelica Consortium (OSMC)

JModelica (2016) from

Citations in Crossref