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Human Anatomy and Physiology

How many degrees of freedom to the human body?

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September 28, 2008 12:44AM

That can be a difficult question to answer. Since mechanically all objects can have at most 6 degrees of freedom, the next question would be how many parts of the human body move. Nearly all parts in the human body can move, and if cells were counted in the answer would be astronomical. However some deduction can be used to reduce that number to a more manageable size. For instance if humans could control the individual cells, then the movements capable of being performed would be limitless and therefor not contained by the skeletal frame of the body. (Think about the shape shifters from Star Trek). Now that cells are out of the question, we are left with muscles and bones. Again this number can be reduced by analyzing the movement types. A person can generate movement from a muscle, however it is governed by the joints nearest that muscle. Therefore the muscles themselves don't have the afore mentioned six degrees of freedom, and can be looked at as mere extensions of the degrees of freedom of the nearest joint or joints. So what does this mean exactly? It means that all movements of the human body are coordinated movements of the joints, and all movements can start independently from any one joint. The human body contains 230 movable or slightly movable joints, and if there are six degrees of freedom for each of them it gives a total of 1380 DOF