Many separate research fields would certainly profit by an information database as a comprehensive resource on the human body and its dynamics. Starting from medical data out of the Visible Human Database (VHD), the CHARM project, supported by Esprit, is developing a Comprehensive Human Animation Resource Model to generate a 3-D computer model of the human body including bones and soft tissue structures in order to define associated simulation procedures for finite element deformation. Initially, the project has been focusing on the shoulder-arm complex which constitutes one of the most complex articulations in the body.
The CHARM researchers first have designed a specific model for the shoulder/arm joint and musculature. Next, generic tools were developed to build the 3-D reconstruction and the biomechanical model. These tools consist of a labelling one allowing semi-automatic-segmentation of anatomical structures and of an interactive topological modeller one permitting the user to define mechanical attributes and the topological relationships between anatomical structures.
Finally, a motion simulation system of the human arm complex was set up including a high-level interface layer in order to control movements using natural language expressions. The finite element modelling technique enables simulation of muscle contraction whereas a ray tracer allows photo-realistic rendering of soft tissue texture deformations. Test sequences obtained from fluoroscope and video material with synthetically-generated movements are compared for visual validation.
The models developed could be of use for medical education as well as clinical applications like surgical simulation. Orthopaedists and sports scientists welcome the CHARM results as a tremendous way to offer insight in the complex kinematics of the articulations and in the unknown neuromuscular control strategies. Already, they are planning virtual experiments to analyse athlete performance. Further testing facilities are envisaged for pathology and prosthetic simulations. CHARM's Home Page is telling you more about it.