Department: Comparative Biomedical Sciences

Campus: Hawkshead

Research Centres: Structure & Motion Laboratory

Research Supervisor: Professor John Hutchinson

 Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Musculoskeletal Modeling and Simulation

After obtaining his BS degree, Jeff pursued a MSE and PhD at the University of Texas at Austin (USA). His projects were supervised by Dr. Richard Neptune in the Neuromuscular  Biomechanics Lab and focused on developing and using musculoskeletal models to create forward dynamics simulations of different mobility tasks.

The research Jeff conducted during his postgraduate education focused on two different human movements: bicycle pedalling and wheelchair propulsion. His pedalling research was directed at understanding how changes in bicycle configuration influence muscle and crank power generation. As part of this research he integrated a musculoskeletal model and forward dynamics simulation of pedalling into a design optimization framework to investigate the influences that bicycle chainring shape and seat position have on crank power, with the ultimate goal of increasing performance by modifying bicycle equipment to maximize power. Jeff’s wheelchair research has focused on assisting manual wheelchair users in optimizing their push technique to reduce upper extremity physical demand during propulsion, which often leads to overuse injury and pain. To accomplish this goal, he used forward dynamics simulations of wheelchair propulsion to identify muscle contributions to wheelchair propulsion mechanical energetics and has investigated how different push technique variables (e.g. direction handrim force application, push frequency) influence upper extremity muscle demand. The results of this project have provided additional knowledge necessary for developing effective rehabilitation strategies that reduce upper extremity injury and pain among wheelchair users.

After completing his PhD, Jeff joined the Structure and Motion Group at RVC as a Research Fellow to provide additional expertise in combining musculoskeletal models and dynamic simulations with empirical methods to investigate movement biomechanics. He is currently working with John Hutchinson to develop forward dynamic simulations of different movements for a wide range of species in order to understand how muscles are coordinated together and contribute to the mechanical energetics of these movements.

Jeff’s research goal is to understand the basic principles that guide neural control and musculoskeletal function over a wide range of movements in order to develop a scientific foundation for developing assistive devices (e.g., neuroprosthetics), biomimetic robotics (e.g., exoskeletal devices) and rehabilitation techniques. To accomplish this goal, he aims to identify how different neuromuscular and musculoskeletal systems accomplish a wide range of motor tasks through questions such as: what are the functional roles of muscles that contribute to a movement or how do altering movement constraints influence neural control? To answer these questions, Jeff uses a combined empirical and modelling approach because these questions are difficult to address through a solely empirical approach due to the complexity of the musculoskeletal system and difficulty in making direct measurements of musculoskeletal variables (e.g., muscle force).

Rankin, J.W., Richter, W.M., and Neptune, R.R. (2011). Individual muscle contributions to push and recovery substasks during wheelchair propulsion. Journal of Biomechanics (in press).

Rankin, J.W. and Neptune, R.R. (2010). The influence of seat configuration on maximal average crank power during pedaling: a simulation study. Journal of Applied Biomechanics 26(4):493-500.

Rankin, J.W., Kwarciak, A.M., Richter, W.M., and Neptune, R.R. (2010). The influence of altering push force effectiveness on upper extremity demand during wheelchair propulsion. Journal of Biomechanics 43(14):2771-2779.

Rankin, J.W. and Neptune, R.R. (2008). A theoretical analysis of an optimal chainring shape to maximize crank power during isokinetic pedaling. Journal of Biomechanics 41(7):1494-1502.


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