Lower Limb Motion Estimation Using Ultrasound Imaging: A Framework for Assistive Device Control

Mohammad Hassan Jahanandish, Nicholas P. Fey, Kenneth Hoyt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


Objective: Powered assistive devices need improved control intuitiveness to enhance their clinical adoption. Therefore, the intent of individuals should be identified and the device movement should adhere to it. Skeletal muscles contract synergistically to produce defined lower limb movements, so unique contraction patterns in lower extremity musculature may provide a means of device joint control. Ultrasound (US) imaging enables direct measurement of the local deformation of muscle segments. Hence, the objective of this study was to assess the feasibility of using US to estimate human lower limb movements. Methods: A novel algorithm was developed to calculate US features of the rectus femoris muscle during a non-weight-bearing knee flexion/extension experiment by nine able-bodied subjects. Five US features of the skeletal muscle tissue were studied, namely thickness, angle between aponeuroses, pennation angle, fascicle length, and echogenicity. A multiscale ridge filter was utilized to extract the structures in the image and a random sample consensus (RANSAC) model was used to segment muscle aponeuroses and fascicles. A localization scheme further guided RANSAC to enable tracking in a US image sequence. Gaussian process regression models were trained using segmented features to estimate both knee joint angle and angular velocity. Results: The proposed segmentation-estimation approach could estimate knee joint angle and angular velocity with an average root mean square error value of 7.45° and 0.262 rad/s, respectively. The average processing rate was 3-6 frames/s that is promising toward real-time implementation. Conclusion: Experimental results demonstrate the feasibility of using US to estimate human lower extremity motion. The ability of the algorithm to work in real time may enable the use of US as a neural interface for lower limb applications. Significance: Intuitive intent recognition of human lower extremity movements using wearable US imaging may enable volitional assistive device control and enhance locomotor outcomes for those with mobility impairments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number8606176
Pages (from-to)2505-2514
Number of pages10
JournalIEEE Journal of Biomedical and Health Informatics
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2019


  • Lower-limb assistive robots
  • machine learning
  • motion estimation
  • rehabilitation robotics
  • ultrasound imaging

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Health Information Management


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