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Research Papers

The Geometrical Arrangement of Knee Constraints That Makes Natural Motion Possible: Theoretical and Experimental Analysis

[+] Author and Article Information
Michele Conconi

DIN—Department of Industrial Engineering,
Alma Mater Studiorum—University of Bologna,
Viale Risorgimento 2,
Bologna 40136, Italy
e-mail: michele.conconi@unibo.it

Nicola Sancisi

DIN—Department of Industrial Engineering,
Alma Mater Studiorum—University of Bologna,
Viale Risorgimento 2,
Bologna 40136, Italy
e-mail: nicola.sancisi@unibo.it

Vincenzo Parenti-Castelli

DIN—Department of Industrial Engineering,
Alma Mater Studiorum—University of Bologna,
Viale Risorgimento 2,
Bologna 40136, Italy
e-mail: vincenzo.parenti@unibo.it

1Corresponding author.

Manuscript received January 18, 2018; final manuscript received February 21, 2019; published online March 25, 2019. Assoc. Editor: Beth A. Winkelstein.

J Biomech Eng 141(5), 051001 (Mar 25, 2019) (6 pages) Paper No: BIO-18-1035; doi: 10.1115/1.4043028 History: Received January 18, 2018; Revised February 21, 2019

The study of the knee natural motion, namely the unresisted motion that the knee exhibits in the absence of external loads, provides insights into the physiology of this articulation. The natural motion represents the baseline condition upon which deformations of its passive structures (i.e., ligaments and cartilage) take place when loads are applied. Moreover, during natural motion, the strain energy density stored within ligaments and cartilage is minimized. This reduces the chance of microdamage occurrences and the corresponding metabolic cost for tissue repairing. The study of the knee natural motion is thus fundamental in understanding the joint physiology. This paper shows that the line of action of resultant forces of all the knee constraints provided by the passive structures must intersect the instantaneous helical axis (IHA) to make the knee natural motion possible. In other words, the lines of action of all these constraints must cross the same line at each flexion angle to guarantee the natural motion of the joint. This geometrical property is first proven theoretically and then verified in four in vitro and one in vivo experiments. The geometrical characterization of the knee natural motion presented in this study provides a fundamental property that must be satisfied to allow the correct joint mobility. The knowledge of this property may thus allow the definition of better models, treatments, and devices.

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Topics: Knee
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Figures

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 1

The screws representing the knee IHA (T) and the ith wrench (Wi) at the generic instant of time

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 2

Representation of the two geometrical conditions that satisfy Eq. (6): incident (a) and parallel (b) screws

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 3

Representation of the IHA (green line) and of the lines of action of the ligament (blue) and contact (red) wrenches every 30 deg of the analyzed range of knee natural motion for a representative specimen (leg 2). Spheres represent the closest point to the IHA on each wrench and their color goes from white (di > 5 mm) to the one of the corresponding line (di = 0 mm). Colors on the tibia are proportional to the tibiofemoral relative distance (red: distance ≤ 0 mm; blue: distance > 7 mm). (For colors, please refer to the online version of the paper.)

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