Modeling 3D Ground Reaction Forces During Walking Using Nanocomposite Piezo-Responsive Foam Sensors

This study presents a new technique for acquiring ground reaction forces from novel, nanocomposite piezo-responsive foam (NCPF) sensors. A shoe was fitted with four NCPF sensors located at the heel, arch, ball, and toe positions. Running data was collected simultaneously from both the shoe sensors and from a force-sensing treadmill. A portion (30 randomly selected stance phases) of the treadmill data was used to develop a predictive stochastic model of GRF based on the sensor inputs. The stochastic model was then used to predict GRF for the remaining shoe sensor data, which was then benchmarked against the treadmill data. The results indicated that this model was able to predict forces in the x-axis (anterior-posterior) with 2.38% error, forces in the y-axis (medial-lateral) with 6.01% error, and forces in the z-axis (vertical) with 2.43% error. These novel sensors hold potential to dramatically improve both the ease and expense associated with GRF data, as well as allow unprecedented ability to measure GRF during real world applications outside of the laboratory.
Listed In: Biomechanical Engineering, Gait, Mechanical Engineering, Sports Science

Nucleotomy Alters Internal Strain Distribution of the Human Lumbar Intervertebral Disc

Nucleotomy is a surgical procedure following herniation and also simulates the reduced nucleus pulpousus (NP) pressure that occurs with disc degeneration. Internal disc strains are an important factor in disc function, yet it is unclear how internal strains are affected by nucleotomy. Grade II L3-L4 human cadaveric discs (n=6) were analyzed intact and after a partial nucleotomy that removed 30-50% of the NP through a left posterolateral incision (incision) while the contralateral side remained intact (uninjured). Two cycles of stress-relaxation testing were performed for reference (50N) and loaded (0.70MPa) configurations. After each 8hour equilibration period, the reference and loaded discs were imaged separately in a 7T MRI scanner (0.3mm isotropic resolution). The reference and loaded images were registered to calculate internal strain within the annulus fibrosus (AF) lamellae and discs were averaged to create anatomical templates. Circumferential, radial, and axial strains for each disc were transformed to the average templates, effectively normalizing the strains. Five circumferential regions were defined within the mid-third of the templates. Nucleotomy altered disc strains on both the incision and uninjured sides from the intact state. Strain fields were inhomogeneous through the five regions. Mean circumferential strain was unaffected by nucleotomy on the uninjured side, but decreased with incision, showing hoop strains through the AF were disrupted. Mean compressive axial strains were higher after nucleotomy, effectively reducing AF stiffness, and mean radial strains were unaltered after partial nucleotomy. These findings are important to address etiology and progression of degeneration, and to develop and evaluate therapeutic interventions.
Listed In: Biomechanical Engineering, Biomechanics, Orthopedic Research

A preliminary study on quality of knee strength measurements by means of Hand Held Dynamometer and Optoelectronic System

Strength measurements are popular in the clinical practice to evaluate the health status of patients and quantify the outcome of training programs. Currently a common method to measure strength is based on Hand Held Dynamometers (HHD) which is operator-dependent. Some studies were conducted on repeatability of strength measurements but they were limited to the statistical analysis of repeated measurements of force. In this work, the authors developed a methodology to study the quality of knee flexion/extension strength measurements by measuring the effective HHD position and orientation with respect to the patient. HHD positioning attitude was measured by means of an Optoelectronic System for which a marker protocol was defined ad-hoc. The approach allowed to assess quality of measurements and operator’s ability by means of quantitative indices. The protocol permitted the evaluation of: angles of HHD application, angular range of motion of the knee and range of motion of the HHD. RMSE parameters allowed to quantify the inaccuracy associated to the selected indices. Results showed that the operator was not able to keep the subject’s limb completely still. The force exerted by the subject was higher in knee extension and the knee range of motion was higher than expected, however the operator had more difficulties in holding the HHD in knee flexion trials. This work showed that HHD positioning should be as accurate as possible, as it plays an important role for the strength evaluation. Moreover, the operator should be properly trained and should be strong enough to counteract the force of the subject.
Listed In: Biomechanical Engineering, Biomechanics, Physical Therapy, Sports Science

Human cadaveric bi-Segment impact experiments at different postures

Victims of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) that have presented spinal injury in recent conflicts have been shown to have a high incidence of lumbar spine fractures. Previous studies have shown that the initial positioning of spinal bone-disc-bone complexes affects their biomechanical response when loaded quasi-statically; such a correlation, however, has not been explored at appropriate high loading rate scenarios that simulate injury. This study aims to investigate the response of lumbar spine cadaveric segments in different postures under axial impact conditions. Three T11-L1 bi-segments were dissected and tested destructively in a drop tower under flexed/neutral/extended postures. Strains were measured on the vertebral body and the spinous process of T12. Forces were measured cranially using a 6-axis load cell, and a high-speed camera was used to capture displacements and fracture. The impacted specimens were CT-scanned to identify the fracture pattern. Whilst axial force to failure was similar for flexed and extended postures, the non-axial forces and the bending moments, however, were dissimilar between postures. Although all specimens showed a burst fracture pattern, the extended posture failed more posteriorly. This suggests that axial force alone is not adequate to predict injury severity in the lumbar spine. This insight would not have been possible without the use of the 6-axis load cell. As metrics for spinal injury in surrogates take into account only the axial force, this programme of work may provide data for a better injury criterion and allow for a mechanistic understanding of the effects of posture on injury risk.
Listed In: Biomechanical Engineering, Biomechanics, Mechanical Engineering, Orthopedic Research

Effects of postural stability on the transfer of learned movement control strategies

We investigated whether stability affects the learning and/or transfer of human postural control strategies. Subjects learned novel postural control strategies in a more stable standing configuration and then transferred to a less stable configuration, or vice versa. Initial learning was not affected by stability. However, transfer of learned control from one context to another was affected by the change in stability between contexts. These results suggest that in rehabilitation it is important to consider the context in which task learning occurs, as well as the context in which the task will be performed in the future.
Listed In: Biomechanical Engineering, Biomechanics, Neuroscience

Effects of Adiposity on Walking Muscle Function in Children: Implications for Bio-Feedback and Assistive Devices

Altered gait biomechanics associated with pediatric obesity may increase the risk of musculoskeletal injury/pathology during physical activity and/or diminish a child’s ability to engage in sufficient physical activity. The biomechanical mechanisms responsible for the altered gait in obese children are not well understood, particularly as they relate to increases in adipose tissue. The purpose of this study was to investigate the role of adiposity (i.e. body fat percentage, BF%) on lower extremity kinematics, muscle force requirements and their individual contributions to the acceleration of the center of mass (COM) during walking. We scaled a musculoskeletal model to the anthropometrics of each participant (n=14, 8-12 years old, BF%: 16-41%) and generated dynamic simulations of walking to predict muscle forces and their contributions to the acceleration of the COM. Muscle force output was normalized to muscle mass. BF% was correlated with average knee flexion angle during stance (r=−0.54) and pelvic obliquity range of motion (r=0.78), as well as with relative vasti (r=−0.60), gluteus medius (r=0.65) and soleus (r=0.59) force production. Contributions to COM acceleration from the vasti were negatively correlated to BF% (vertical: r=−0.75, posterior: r=−0.68, respectively), but there was no correlation between BF% and COM accelerations produced by the gluteus medius. The functional demands and relative force requirements of the hip abductors during walking in pediatric obesity may contribute to altered gait kinematics. Our results provide insight into the muscle force requirements during walking in pediatric obesity that may be used to improve the quality/quantity of locomotor activity in this population.
Listed In: Biomechanical Engineering, Biomechanics, Gait

Novel Synthetic Biolubricant Reduces Friction in Previously-Worn Cartilage Evaluated by Long-Duration Torsional Friction Test

During osteoarthritis (OA), the lubricity of synovial fluid (SF) decreases. Therefore, we synthesized a novel, 2MDa polymer biolubricant (“2M TEG”) designed to augment the lubricating properties of SF in OA. This study’s aims were 1) to compare the abilities of 2M TEG and bovine synovial fluid (BSF) to reduce the coefficient of friction (COF) for previously “worn” cartilage specimens during a long-duration, torsional, wear test, and 2) using the same regimen, examine the “reversibility” of 2M TEG’s lubricity relative to BSF. For both aims, each wear test consisted of subjecting mated, bovine osteochondral plug pairs to 10,080 rotations. To accomplish Aim 1, plug pairs were subjected to three sequential wear regimens (Wear 1-3). Wear 1&2 were used to progressively “wear” the cartilage, and Wear 3 was used to test the efficacy of either BSF (n=4) or 2M TEG (n=4) on “worn” cartilage. For Aim 2, three pairs were subjected to four sequential wear regimens, where the lubricants were BSF, BSF, 2M TEG, and BSF, respectively. The relative percent reduction in COF between Wear 3 and Wear 2 in Aim 1 was greatest for 2M TEG, followed by BSF. For Aim 2, the mean percent reduction in COF for Wear 3 relative to Wear 2 was almost exactly the same as the mean increase in COF for Wear 4 relative to Wear 3. By reducing the COF for worn cartilage in OA joints, synthetic biolubricants such as 2M TEG could help minimize further cartilage wear and ameliorate the progression of OA.
Listed In: Biomechanical Engineering, Biomechanics, Biotribology, Orthopedic Research

Evaluation of Haversian Bone Fracture Healing in Simulated Microgravity

The inherent reduction in mechanical loading associated with microgravity has been shown to result in dramatic decreases in the bone mineral density (BMD) and mechanical strength of skeletal tissue. Importantly, there is a concomitant increase in fracture risk during long-duration spaceflight missions. Thus, the objective of this study was to investigate the effects of microgravity loading on long-bone fracture healing in a previously-developed Haversian bone model of simulated microgravity over a 4-week period. For in vivo mechanical evaluation, strains of an implanted orthopaedic fixation plate were quantified for known hindlimb ground reaction forces with a six degree-of-freedom load cell (AMTI, Watertown, MA). In vivo strain measurements demonstrated significantly higher orthopaedic plate strains in the Microgravity Group as compared to the Control Group following the 28-day healing period due to inhibited healing in the microgravity environment. DEXA BMD in the treated metatarsus of the Microgravity Group decreased 17.6% at the time of the ostectomy surgery and decreased an additional 5.4% during the 28-day healing period. Four-point bending stiffness of the Microgravity Group was 4.4 times lower than that of the Control Group (p<0.01), while µCT and histomorphometry demonstrated reduced periosteal callus area, mineralizing surface, mineral apposition rate (p<0.001), bone formation rate, and periosteal/endosteal osteoblast numbers as well as increased periosteal osteoclast number. These data provide strong evidence that the mechanical loading environment dramatically affects the fracture healing cascade and resultant mineralized tissue strength, and that the microgravity loading environment has negative effects on fracture healing in Haversian systems.
Listed In: Biomechanical Engineering, Biomechanics, Mechanical Engineering, Orthopedic Research

Are static and dynamic squatting activities comparable?

Background: Numerous studies have described 3D kinematics, 3D kinetics and electromyography (EMG) of the lower limb during quasi-static or dynamic squatting activities. However there is only little information on the comparison of these two squatting conditions. Only one study compared these activities in terms of 3D kinematics, but no information was available on 3D kinetics and EMG. The purpose of this study was to compare simultaneous recordings of 3D kinematics, 3D kinetics and EMG of the lower limb during quasi-static and fast dynamic squats. Methods: Ten subjects were recruited. 3D knee kinematics was recorded with a motion capture system, 3D kinetics was recorded with a force plate, and EMG of 8 muscles was recorded with surface electrodes. Each subject performed a quasi-static squat and several fast dynamic squats from 0° to 70° of knee flexion. Findings: Mean differences between quasi-static and dynamic squats were 1.6° for rotations, 1.8 mm for translations, 38 N ground reaction forces (2.1 % of subjects’ body weight), 6 Nm for torques, 13.0 mm for center of pressure, and 7 µV for EMG (6.3% of the maximum dynamic electromyographic activities ). Some significant differences (P < 0.05) were found in anterior-posterior translation, vertical forces and EMG. Interpretation: All differences found between quasi-static and fast dynamic squats can be considered small. 69.5% of the compared data were equivalent. In conclusion, this study show for the first time that quasi-static and dynamic squatting activities are comparable in terms of 3D kinematics, 3D kinetics and EMG.

Listed In: Biomechanical Engineering, Biomechanics, Gait, Orthopedic Research, Posturography

Suprathreshold Galvanic Vestibular Stimulation as an analog of vestibular dysfunction

In the past we have shown that exposure to increasing amplitudes of Galvanic vestibular stimulation (GVS) induces a corresponding increasing deficit in postural control, cognition and autonomic function. Previous studies have suggested that suprathreshold GVS induces a similar pattern of postural instability as the one observed on bilateral vestibular loss. The aim of the present study was to determine whether different current intensities would affect somatosensory, visual, and vestibular sensory system similarly to patient affected by vestibular deficits. We assessed postural control in unilateral (right and left) and bilateral vestibular loss patients, an aged matched healthy control group, and during pseudorandom binaural bipolar GVS in healthy subjects at one of three current amplitudes (1 mA, 3.5 mA, 5 mA). Balance was assessed with sensory organization test (SOT) that quantifies the effectiveness of vestibular, visual and somatosensory input to postural control. Results showed that GVS significantly affects vestibular control of posture compared to baseline at all current amplitudes, whereas somatosensory and visual performance was unaffected. Vestibular patients showed a significant decrease in vestibular and visual response compared to control. Suprathreshold GVS 5 mA showed a similar large effect size to unilateral and bilateral vestibular loss patients relative to their aged matched control. NASA NCC 9-58 and NNX09AL14G

Listed In: Biomechanical Engineering, Neuroscience, Posturography