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Research Papers

J Biomech Eng. 2018;140(7):071001-071001-10. doi:10.1115/1.4039680.

Emphysema is the permanent enlargement of air spaces in the respiratory regions of the lung due to destruction of the inter-alveolar septa. The progressive coalescence of alveoli and alveolar ducts into larger airspaces leads to the disruption of normal airway wall motion and airflow rates within the pulmonary acinus. To contribute to the understanding of the individual effects of emphysema during its earliest stages, computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulations of airflow in mathematically derived models of the pulmonary acinus were performed. The here generated computational domain consists of two generations of alveolar ducts within the pulmonary acinus, with alveolar geometries approximated as closely packed, 14-sided polygons. Physiologically realistic airflow rates and wall motions were used to study airflow patterns within subsequent generations of alveolar ducts during the inspiratory and expiratory phases of the breathing cycle. The effects of progressive emphysema on the airway wall motion and flow rates were simulated by sequentially removing all alveolar septa within each alveolar duct. Parametric studies were presented to independently assess the relative influence of progressive septal destruction of airway motion and flow rates. The results illustrate that septal destruction lowers the flow resistance through the alveolar ducts but has little influence on the mass transport of oxygen into the alveoli. Septal destruction has a net effect on the flow field by favoring the development of recirculatory flow patterns in individual alveoli.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
J Biomech Eng. 2018;140(7):071002-071002-6. doi:10.1115/1.4039624.

A subset of temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders is attributed to joint degeneration. The pig has been considered the preferred in vivo model for the evaluation of potential therapies for TMJ disorders, and practical considerations such as cost and husbandry issues have favored the use of young, skeletally immature animals. However, the effect of growth on the biochemical and biomechanical properties of the TMJ disk and articulating cartilage has not been examined. The present study investigates the effect of age on the biochemical and biomechanical properties of healthy porcine TMJs at 3, 6, and 9 months of age. DNA, hydroxyproline, and glycosaminoglycan (GAG) content were determined and the disks and condyles were tested in uniaxial unconfined stress relaxation compression from 10% to 30% strain. TMJ disks were further assessed with a tensile test to failure technique, which included the ability to test multiple samples from the same region of an individual disk to minimize the intraspecimen variation. No differences in biochemical properties for the disk or compressive properties at 30% stress relaxation in the disk and condylar cartilage were found. In tension, no differences were observed for peak stress and tensile modulus. The collagen content of the condyle was higher at 9 months than 3 months (p < 0.05), and the GAG content was higher at 9 months than 6 months (p < 0.05). There was a trend of increased compressive instantaneous modulus with age. As such, age-matched controls for growing pigs are probably appropriate for most parameters measured.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
J Biomech Eng. 2018;140(7):071003-071003-12. doi:10.1115/1.4039823.

It is unclear whether combat eyewear used by U. S. Service members is protective against blast overpressures (BOPs) caused by explosive devices. Here, we investigated the mechanisms by which BOP bypasses eyewear and increases eye surface pressure. We performed experiments and developed three-dimensional (3D) finite element (FE) models of a head form (HF) equipped with an advanced combat helmet (ACH) and with no eyewear, spectacles, or goggles in a shock tube at three BOPs and five head orientations relative to the blast wave. Overall, we observed good agreement between experimental and computational results, with average discrepancies in impulse and peak-pressure values of less than 15% over 90 comparisons. In the absence of eyewear and depending on the head orientation, we identified three mechanisms that contributed to pressure loading on the eyes. Eyewear was most effective at 0 deg orientation, with pressure attenuation ranging from 50 (spectacles) to 80% (goggles) of the peak pressures observed in the no-eyewear configuration. Spectacles and goggles were considerably less effective when we rotated the HF in the counter-clockwise direction around the superior-inferior axis of the head. Surprisingly, at certain orientations, spectacles yielded higher maximum pressures (80%) and goggles yielded larger impulses (150%) than those observed without eyewear. The findings from this study will aid in the design of eyewear that provides better protection against BOP.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
J Biomech Eng. 2018;140(7):071004-071004-7. doi:10.1115/1.4039625.

Traumatic brain injury (TBI), resulting from either impact- or nonimpact blast-related mechanisms, is a devastating cause of death and disability. The cerebral blood vessels, which provide critical support for brain tissue in both health and disease, are commonly injured in TBI. However, little is known about how vessels respond to traumatic loading, particularly at rates relevant to blast. To better understand vessel responses to trauma, the objective of this project was to characterize the high-rate response of passive cerebral arteries. Rat middle cerebral arteries (MCAs) were isolated and subjected to high-rate deformation in the axial direction. Vessels were perfused at physiological pressures and stretched to failure at strain rates ranging from approximately 100 to 1300 s−1. Although both in vivo stiffness and failure stress increased significantly with strain rate, failure stretch did not depend on rate.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
J Biomech Eng. 2018;140(7):071005-071005-11. doi:10.1115/1.4039675.

Most dynamic simulations are based on inverse dynamics, being the time-dependent physiological nature of the muscle properties rarely considered due to numerical challenges. Since the influence of muscle physiology on the consistency of inverse dynamics simulations remains unclear, the purpose of the present study is to evaluate the computational efficiency and biological validity of four musculotendon models that differ in the simulation of the muscle activation and contraction dynamics. Inverse dynamic analyses are performed using a spatial musculoskeletal model of the upper limb. The muscle force-sharing problem is solved for five repetitions of unloaded and loaded motions of shoulder abduction and shoulder flexion. The performance of the musculotendon models is evaluated by comparing muscle activation predictions with electromyography (EMG) signals, measured synchronously with motion for 11 muscles, and the glenohumeral joint reaction forces estimated numerically with those measured in vivo. The results show similar muscle activations for all muscle models. Overall, high cross-correlations are computed between muscle activations and the EMG signals measured for all movements analyzed, which provides confidence in the results. The glenohumeral joint reaction forces estimated compare well with those measured in vivo, but the influence of the muscle dynamics is found to be negligible. In conclusion, for slow-speed, standard movements of the upper limb, as those studied here, the activation and musculotendon contraction dynamics can be neglected in inverse dynamic analyses without compromising the prediction of muscle and joint reaction forces.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
J Biomech Eng. 2018;140(7):071006-071006-7. doi:10.1115/1.4039826.

Many clinical case series have reported the predisposing factors for C5 palsy and have presented comparisons of the two types of laminoplasty. However, there have been no biomechanical studies focusing on cervical spinal cord and nerve root following laminoplasty. The purpose of this study is to investigate biomechanical changes in the spinal cord and nerve roots following the two most common types of laminoplasty, open-door and double-door laminoplasty, for cervical ossification of the posterior longitudinal ligament (OPLL). A finite element (FE) model of the cervical spine and spinal cord with nerve root complex structures was developed. Stress changes in the spinal cord and nerve roots, posterior shift of the spinal cord, and displacement of the cervical nerve roots were analyzed with two types of cervical laminoplasty models for variations in the degree of canal occupying ratio and shape of the OPLL. The shape and degree of spinal cord compression caused by the OPLL had more influence on the changes in stress, posterior shift of the spinal cord, and displacement of the nerve root than the type of laminoplasty. The lateral-type OPLL resulted in imbalanced stress on the nerve roots and the highest nerve root displacement. Type of laminoplasty and shape and degree of spinal cord compression caused by OPLL were found to influence the changes in stress and posterior displacement of the cervical spinal cord and nerve roots. Lateral-type OPLL might contribute to the development of C5 palsy due to the imbalanced stress and tension on the nerve roots after laminoplasty.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster

Technical Brief

J Biomech Eng. 2018;140(7):074501-074501-5. doi:10.1115/1.4039579.

Aerobic exercise helps to maintain cardiovascular health in part by mitigating age-induced arterial stiffening. However, the long-term effects of exercise regimens on aortic stiffness remain unknown, especially in the intimal extracellular matrix layer known as the subendothelial matrix. To examine how the stiffness of the subendothelial matrix changes following exercise cessation, mice were exposed to an 8 week swimming regimen followed by an 8 week sedentary rest period. Whole vessel and subendothelial matrix stiffness were measured after both the exercise and rest periods. After swimming, whole vessel and subendothelial matrix stiffness decreased, and after 8 weeks of rest, these values returned to baseline. Within the same time frame, the collagen content in the intima layer and the presence of advanced glycation end products (AGEs) in the whole vessel were also affected by the exercise and the rest periods. Overall, our data indicate that consistent exercise is necessary for maintaining compliance in the subendothelial matrix.

Topics: Waves , Stiffness , Aorta , Vessels
Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster

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