Accurate estimation of the position and orientation (pose) of a bone from a cluster of skin markers is limited mostly by the relative motion between the bone and the markers, which is known as the Soft Tissue Artifact (STA). This work presents a method, based on continuum mechanics, to describe the kinematics of a cluster affected by STA. The cluster is characterized by Triangular Cosserat Point Elements (TCPEs) defined by all combinations of three markers. The effects of the STA on the TCPEs are quantified using three parameters describing the strain in each TCPE and the relative rotation and translation between TCPEs. The method was evaluated using previously collected ex-vivo kinematic data. Femur pose was estimated from 12 skin markers on the thigh, while its reference pose was measured using bone pins. Analysis revealed that instantaneous subsets of TCPEs exist which estimate bone position and orientation more accurately than the Procrustes Superimposition applied to the cluster of all markers. It has been shown that some of these parameters correlate well with femur pose errors, which suggests that they can be used to select, at each instant, subsets of TCPEs leading an improved estimation of the underlying bone pose.
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