Upper body biomechanics and knee loading
The primary focus of my PhD research is to determine how segments in the kinematic chain, specifically the trunk influence risk of injury, with special focus to the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) during sport. Current literature has shown that gait re-training, exercise and surgery are effective in reducing injury risk and disease progression in homogenous test populations. Little information however has been devoted to understanding the fundamental biomechanical mechanisms associated with these observed treatment effects at a subject level. Moving beyond the traditional foci of injury and disease progression and understanding what is occurring above the knee in the kinematic chain during common dynamic activities such as walking, running and jumping are required before these questions can be fully answered.
Using full body subject specific forward dynamic models of human gait, the primary goal of my PhD research is to empirically determine cause-effect relationships between an individual’s motor control/kinematics and knee loading/ACL injury risk. Using a forward or cause effect research approach, health care professionals will be provided with the foundations necessary for prescribing injury prevention strategies specific to the individual rather than ones designed for homogenous test populations. Future directions for this experimental approach can also be used to manage patient osteoarthritis progression and/or estimate functional outcomes of surgical interventions for Cerebral Palsy populations.
The ability to test cause-effect relationships or ‘what if’ questions associated with joint loading and whole body biomechanics will indeed influence injury prevention and disease management. This research directive will indeed improve the quality of patient care for all Australians in years to come.