OpenSim: A musculoskeletal modeling and simulation framework for in silico investigations and exchange

Ajay Seth*, Michael Sherman, Jeffrey A. Reinbolt, Scott L. Delp

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

195 Citations (Scopus)


Movement science is driven by observation, but observation alone cannot elucidate principles of human and animal movement. Biomechanical modeling and computer simulation complement observations and inform experimental design. Biological models are complex and specialized software is required for building, validating, and studying them. Furthermore, common access is needed so that investigators can contribute models to a broader community and leverage past work. We are developing OpenSim, a freely available musculoskeletal modeling and simulation application and libraries specialized for these purposes, by providing: musculoskeletal modeling elements, such as biomechanical joints, muscle actuators, ligament forces, compliant contact, and controllers; and tools for fitting generic models to subject-specific data, performing inverse kinematics and forward dynamic simulations. OpenSim performs an array of physics-based analyses to delve into the behavior of musculoskeletal models by employing Simbody, an efficient and accurate multibody system dynamics code. Models are publicly available and are often reused for multiple investigations because they provide a rich set of behaviors that enables different lines of inquiry. This report will discuss one model developed to study walking and applied to gain deeper insights into muscle function in pathological gait and during running. We then illustrate how simulations can test fundamental hypotheses and focus the aims of in vivo experiments, with a postural stability platform and human model that provide a research environment for performing human posture experiments in silico. We encourage wide adoption of OpenSim for community exchange of biomechanical models and methods and welcome new contributors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)212-232
Number of pages21
JournalProcedia IUTAM
Publication statusPublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Biological joints
  • Gait simulation
  • Musculotendinous actuators
  • Neuromuscular control
  • Neuromusculoskeletal biomechanics
  • Simbios biocomputation
  • Simtk simbody


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