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musculoskeletal system[¦məs·kyə·lō′skel·ə·təl ‚sis·təm]
a single complex that consists of bones, joints, ligaments, muscles, and the nerves that innervate these parts. In humans and animals the musculoskeletal system supports the body, controls locomotion, and provides for movement of the individual parts and organs, for example, the head and the extremities.
The coordination of function in the locomotor system is determined during embryogenesis, when the sclerotomes—from which the skeletal system develops—are laid down parallel to the myotomes—from which the muscles develop. The fixed portion of the musculoskeletal system is the skeleton—the sturdy foundation of the body, which also protects the internal organs from a number of mechanical influences, such as the impact of a blow.
To the bones of the skeleton are attached the striated, or skeletal, muscles, which are innervated and controlled by nerve endings of nerves that originate in the central nervous system (seeMOTOR ANALYZER).
Muscles constitute the active part of the musculoskeletal system. By means of the coordinated activity of the entire musculature of the body, many different types of movement can be effected. Active tensing of muscles is required to support the body while standing and sitting; to effect the various forms of locomotion, such as walking, running, swimming, crawling, and jumping; and to bring about movement in the individual parts of the body. Illnesses of or injuries to any part of the musculoskeletal system can disturb the motion and form of the entire body; the whole musculoskeletal system can suffer, and often the internal organs are harmed as well. For example, when a significant portion of one extremity is lost, curvature of the spine can develop, after which the thorax becomes deformed; these changes can then precipitate circulatory disturbances and disorders in the respiratory organs.
M. A. KON