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Characterization of Human Shoulder Joint Stiffness across 3D Arm Postures and its Sex Differences
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  • Seunghoon Hwang ,
  • dongjune chang ,
  • Aditya Saxena ,
  • Ellory Oleen ,
  • Soe Lin Paing ,
  • John Atkins ,
  • Hyunglae Lee
Seunghoon Hwang
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dongjune chang
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Aditya Saxena
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Ellory Oleen
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Soe Lin Paing
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John Atkins
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Hyunglae Lee
Arizona State University

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Understanding the characteristics of shoulder joint stiffness can offer insights into how the shoulder joint contributes to arm stability and assists in various arm postures and movements. This study aims to characterize posture-dependent shoulder stiffness in a three-dimensional (3D) space and investigate its potential sex differences. A multi-degree-of-freedom, parallelactuated shoulder exoskeleton robot was employed to perturb the participantâ\euro™s shoulder joint and measure the resulting torque responses while participants relaxed their shoulder muscles. The group average results of 40 healthy individuals (20 males and 20 females) revealed that arm postures significantly affect shoulder stiffness, particularly in postures involving shoulder flexion/extension and horizontal flexion/extension. Shoulder stiffness consistently increased as the shoulder flexion angle decreased and the shoulder horizontal flexion/extension approached the limit of its range of motion. The comparative group results between males and females indicated that shoulder stiffness in males was consistently greater than that in females across all 15 arm postures measured in this study. Even after weight-normalization, the female group showed significantly smaller stiffness than the male group in 12 out of 15 arm postures. The results highlight that 3D arm postures and sex significantly affect shoulder stiffness even under relaxed muscles. This study provides valuable foundations for future studies aimed at characterizingshoulder stiffness in the context of active muscles and dynamic movement tasks, evaluating changes in shoulder stiffness following neuromuscular injuries, and formulating rehabilitative training protocols for individuals suffering from shoulder problems.