Biomechanics

Osteoarthritis is a debilitating joint disease that affects more than 1.6 million Australians.

One of the driving factors for biomechanical research is understanding the physiological and mechanical factors that drive the progression of osteoarthritis.

The Biomechanics group maintains a multidisciplinary research effort in applying biomedical engineering approaches to the management and treatment of this disease.

We have established expertise in experimental and computational approaches to examining the structure and function of joints including those of the neck, hip, knee, shoulder and foot.

Major research interests

  • Musculoskeletal modelling of human movement
  • Prosthetics and orthotics
  • Bone and soft-tissue deformation
  • Cell biomechanics

The biomechanics group have established expertise in experimental and computational approaches to examining the structure and function of joints including those of the neck, hip, knee, shoulder and foot.

Capabilities

The Biomechanics Group has developed world-class techniques for measuring muscle, ligament, cartilage and joint loading in the normal, injured and diseased human body. These techniques are being employed to investigate Arthritis and musculoskeletal conditions, which is a National Health Priority area. For example, methods of investigating muscle and joint function are being used to:

  • identify risk factors associated with osteoarthritis
  • develop strategies to mitigate the disease onset
  • assess the effectiveness of surgical interventions to treat diseased joints.

Some of the specific techniques currently being implemented by the Biomechanics Group include:

  • development of patient-specific finite element (FE) models of muscle and joint systems based on magnetic resonance (MR) imaging, computed tomography (CT) and micro-CT
  • in vivo assessment of whole-body kinetics and kinematics using high speed digital-optical motion analysis systems, force plates and wireless electromyography (EMG)
  • measurement of joint kinematics using and bi-plane x-ray fluoroscopy
  • in vitro mechanical testing of human and animal joints using material test systems and custom designed testing instrumentation
  • measurement of cell mechanical properties and morphology using atomic force microscopy (AFM) and light- and confocal-microscopy.

Collaborators

We work in close collaboration with medical experts in key health disciplines including physiotherapists, orthopaedic surgeons, veterinary surgeons and radiologists.

Our work is supported through connections with:

  • orthopaedic companies, including Smith & Nephew and Zimmer
  • local hospitals such as Epworth Healthcare, St Vincent’s and the Royal Melbourne Hospital
  • government organisations including DSTO, CSIRO and the Australian Institute of Sport.

Future directions

In the future, the group’s research interests will become increasingly geared toward real-time measurement of macroscopic and microscopic properties of these joints in live subjects. With rapid increases in computing power combined with recent advances in imaging and more efficient algorithms for modelling and simulation of movement, analyses of the behaviour of such biological systems will be carried out with more detail than ever before.

Laboratories

Biomechanics Laboratory

Cell and Tissue Biomechanics Laboratory

Movement Laboratory: A joint facility at the Royal Park Campus, Royal Melbourne Hospital.

Key people