Orthopaedic biomechanics is the study of human joints. Medical advances in the last few years and an ageing population mean that more people than ever rely on artificial joints. From hip replacements to reconstruction of knee ligaments and cartilage repair, this kind medical engineering is increasingly common.
Here in The Biomechanics Group, we concentrate on improving our understanding of the function of the musculoskeletal system and how to fix it when it goes wrong. We pursue these goals using a combination of:
- Experimental work in the laboratory (in-vitro)
- Clinical research in hospitals (in-vivo)
- Finite element analysis (FEA) on the computer (in-silico)
Our work in implant design aims to provide the surgeon with options for all the patients that require treatment. This includes devices for joint preserving surgery, such as chondral defect or meniscus repair, and devices for early interventional partial joint replacement/resurfacing as well as more conventional total joint replacement device design.
Together with our colleagues in Tribology and Materials, we have the ability to investigate novel materials, both biological and non biological and the interaction between the device and the patient’s natural tissue. Recent work includes using our additive manufacturing facility to produce novel devices in Titanium alloy, and the ability to measure strain gradients and implant micromotion in three dimensional volumes using computed tomography methods.
Joint preserving surgery is intended to correcting pathology and prevent osteoarthritis occurring in the first place. A key requirement to correct pathology is to understand the "normal" biomechanics that the joint should be corrected to.
We have a suite of mechanical and robotic testing equipment to simulate the complex motion of human joints and determine the roles of the active and passive constraint that control the kinematics and kinetics of the joint. To test in the most physiologically relevant way, we have full ethical approval to test cadaver joint specimens in our lab. Our recent work has characterised the role of the lateral structures in the knee joint and the hip capsular ligaments in the hip.
Specializing in nano to microscale architecture to examinine bone architecture and the effectiveness of surgical procedures and interventions.
Devising various novel minimally invasive approaches and testing the effectivenss of the procedures, from arthoplasty to arthroscopy and from joint replacement to restoration.
Materials development and testing
With advances in the biomaterials field the range of potential materials from which to fabricate orthopaedic devices continues to grow. These materials range from the traditional bioinert UHMWPE to the next generation of bioactive glasses as well as compliant polymers and hydrogels.
Our work aims to develop methods and devices that apply physiologically relevant testing conditions both in terms of loading and tribology. Utilising a range of characterisation methods including FTIR, Raman, White light interferometry and histology we examine tested materials for surface, structural and chemical changes to build a full picture of the material performance and wear. Our results inform a continuous improvement process where working in collaboration with our colleagues in materials and tribology we strive to optimise materials from a functional viewpoint.
The Musculoskeletal Medical Engineering Centre (MSk MEC) brings together researchers from across Imperial College London focussed on the discovery and application of new technologies to improve the understanding, diagnosis and treatment of musculoskeletal disorders, such as osteoarthritis.
Formerly the Centre for Medical Engineering Solutions in Osteoarthritis Centre of Excellence funded by Wellcome Trust and EPSRC, the Centre’s membership includes over 100 researchers across different technology and application themes, and represents a strong and diverse interdisciplinary collaboration of engineers, scientists and clinicians.
The Biomechanics Group is a key part of the MSk MEC, along with MiM, the Department of Bioengineering and the MSk Lab.
For more information head to the MSk MEC site.
Take a look at all our videos on our Youtube channel.