Texas Tech University

Orthopedic Biomechanics

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Orthopedic Biomechanics Overview

In the Texas Tech University Orthopedic Biomechanics Laboratory, we focus on the biomechanics of the knee, hip, and spine. Our research is directed at experimentally determining relevant soft tissue properties, as well as the biomechanics associated with overloading and subsequently damaging such tissues. The research being conducted is designed to foster interest, prepare students, and advance the field of orthopedic biomechanics as related to the tibiofemoral joint.

The knee is a complex and large synovial joint with three different articulations capable of supporting loads several times that of the body weight. Tow of the articulations (medial and lateral) are between the respective femoral condyles and the tibial plateau (the so called tibiofemoral joint), and the third articulation is between the trochlear region between the femoral condyles and the patella. There are four ligaments, menisci, articular cartilage, and muscle tendons working together to protect the knee from very large joint reaction forces. Flexion/extension, internal/external rotation, and varus/valgus movement are usually superimposed to produce incredible flexibility, stability, and ability to perform complex athletic tasks. Our research has made significant advances in understanding the biomechanics of the tibiofemoral joint during normal as well as injury-causing activities. We have contributed to the following areas of research:

  1. Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) Injuries:

This ligament connects the femur to the tibia and offers stability to the knee by restricting anterior tibial translation in addition to internal rotation of the tibia relative to the femur. Females injure (tear) their ACLs two to eight times more often than males participating in similar athletic activities. A majority of these injuries will result in premature osteoarthritis of the knee. Many researchers are currently studying the cause of this disparity, ranging from neuromuscular, anatomical, and hormonal aspects. Visit our websites to find out what we think causes this disparity.

  1. ACL Reconstruction (ACLR):

Once an ACL is injured, orthopedic surgeons reconstruct the ACL using either autogenous (non-irradiated tendons harvested from the patient) or allogenic (tissues harvested from cadavers, chemically treated and irradiated). Currently, there are no quality control protocols for selection of the tissue for use in ACLR. The surgeon simply assumes that the quality of the graft is adequate. View our Current Members and Areas of Research page to find out why we think this assumption may not always be appropriate.