Optimisation and control of muscular forces to maintain optimal compression loading in the femur

Brown, Alexander Findlay

September 2014

Thesis or dissertation

© 2014 Alexander Findlay Brown. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder.

The aims of this study were to investigate the feasibility of maintaining compression in the femur as the dominant state of loading and to explore the impact of changes to the musculoskeletal system on this loading regime. The literature provides a wealth of evidence for the adaptation of bone to its mechanical environment. There is a long standing theory that bone is loaded primarily in compression during routine activities and that this is achieved by coordinated muscle activity.

This study employed a multibody dynamics musculoskeletal model that compared optimisations of muscle loading with, and without, enforced compression in the shaft of the femur. The purpose of these optimisation studies was not to accurately predict patterns of muscle activation in vivo, but to comparatively assess the feasibility and cost of maintaining compression in the femur.

The results showed that compression can be maintained in the femur throughout gait by coordinated muscle activity. Loading the shaft of the femur in compression causes a reduction in peak bone stresses. Some increased difficulty in maintaining compressive loading was associated with reduced muscle forces and degraded motor control. These results offer insight into possible mechanisms affecting osteoporosis through incorrect mechanical loading and invite further research.

Department of Engineering, The University of Hull
Fagan, M. J. (Michael J.), 1957-
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