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Editorial

J Biomech Eng. 2016;138(7):070201-070201-1. doi:10.1115/1.4033584.
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Welcome to the inaugural Annual Education Issue of the Journal of Biomechanical Engineering. As part of our efforts to foster excellence in biomechanics education, the editors of the journal have created this special section to highlight innovative teaching practices in bioengineering. The field of bioengineering is still young and, to a large part, lacks established textbooks and pedagogy. Yet, the field is growing rapidly, and some of the most exciting teaching methods and texts are being created to teach biomechanics to a broad, interdisciplinary audience. Our goal is to facilitate the dissemination of best teaching practices and to encourage use of recent research findings published in this journal to educate our students about cutting-edge research results and methods.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster

Review Article

J Biomech Eng. 2016;138(7):070801-070801-5. doi:10.1115/1.4032802.

Current engineering pedagogy primarily focuses on developing technical proficiency and problem solving skills; the peer-review process for sharing new research results is often overlooked. The use of a collaborative classroom journal club can engage students with the excitement of scientific discovery and the process of dissemination of research results, which are also important lifelong learning skills. In this work, a classroom journal club was implemented and a survey of student perceptions spanning three student cohorts was collected. In this collaborative learning activity, students regularly chose and discussed a recent biomechanics journal article, and were assessed based on specific, individual preparation tasks. Most student-chosen journal articles were relevant to topics discussed in the regular class lecture. Surveys assessed student perceptions of the activity. The survey responses show that, across all cohorts, students both enjoyed the classroom journal club and recognized it as an important learning experience. Many reported discussing their journal articles with others outside of the classroom, indicating good engagement. The results demonstrate that student engagement with primary literature can foster both technical knowledge and lifelong learning skills.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
J Biomech Eng. 2016;138(7):070802-070802-6. doi:10.1115/1.4033583.

The design of products and processes is an important area in engineering. Students in engineering schools learn fundamental principles in their courses but often lack an opportunity to apply these methods to real-world problems until their senior year. This article describes important elements that should be incorporated into a senior capstone design course. It includes a description of the general principles used in engineering design and a discussion of why students often have difficulty with application and revert to trial and error methods. The structure of a properly designed capstone course is dissected and its individual components are evaluated. Major components include assessing resources, identifying projects, establishing teams, understanding requirements, developing conceptual designs, creating detailed designs, building prototypes, testing performance, and final presentations. In addition to the course design, team management and effective mentoring are critical to success. This article includes suggested guidelines and tips for effective design team leadership, attention to detail, investment of time, and managing project scope. Furthermore, the importance of understanding business culture, displaying professionalism, and considerations of different types of senior projects is discussed. Through a well-designed course and proper mentoring, students will learn to apply their engineering skills and gain basic business knowledge that will prepare them for entry-level positions in industry.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
J Biomech Eng. 2016;138(7):070803-070803-5. doi:10.1115/1.4032805.

There is a global shift in the teaching methodology of science and engineering toward multidisciplinary, team-based processes. To meet the demands of an evolving technical industry and lead the way in engineering education, innovative curricula are essential. This paper describes the development of multidisciplinary, team-based learning environments in undergraduate and graduate engineering curricula focused on medical device design. In these programs, students actively collaborate with clinicians, professional engineers, business professionals, and their peers to develop innovative solutions to real-world problems. In the undergraduate senior capstone courses, teams of biomedical engineering (BME) and business students have produced and delivered numerous functional prototypes to satisfied clients. Pursuit of commercialization of devices has led to intellectual property (IP) disclosures and patents. Assessments have indicated high levels of success in attainment of student learning outcomes and student satisfaction with their undergraduate design experience. To advance these projects toward commercialization and further promote innovative team-based learning, a Master of Engineering (MEng) in Design and Commercialization was recently launched. The MEng facilitates teams of graduate students in engineering, life sciences, and business who engage in innovation-commercialization (IC) projects and coursework that take innovative ideas through research and development (R&D) to create marketable devices. The activities are structured with students working together as a “virtual company,” with targeted outcomes of commercialization (license agreements and new start-ups), competitive job placement, and/or career advancement.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
J Biomech Eng. 2016;138(7):070804-070804-9. doi:10.1115/1.4033671.
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Problem-based learning (PBL) has been shown to be effective in biomedical engineering education, particularly in motivating student learning, increasing knowledge retention, and developing problem solving, communication, and teamwork skills. However, PBL adoption remains limited by real challenges in effective implementation. In this paper, we review the literature on advantages and challenges of PBL and present our own experiences. We also provide practical guidelines for implementing PBL, including two examples of PBL modules from biomechanics courses at two different institutions. Overall, we conclude that the benefits for both professors and students support the use of PBL in biomedical engineering education.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster

Research Papers

J Biomech Eng. 2016;138(7):071001-071001-12. doi:10.1115/1.4033474.

Blood is a complex fluid that, among other things, has been established to behave as a shear thinning, non-Newtonian fluid when exposed to low shear rates (SR). Many hemodynamic investigations use a Newtonian fluid to represent blood when the flow field of study has relatively high SR (>200 s−1). Shear thinning fluids have been shown to exhibit differences in transition to turbulence (TT) compared to that of Newtonian fluids. Incorrect prediction of the transition point in a simulation could result in erroneous hemodynamic force predictions. The goal of the present study was to compare velocity profiles near TT of whole blood and Newtonian blood analogs in a straight rigid pipe with a diameter 6.35 mm under steady flow conditions. Rheology was measured for six samples of whole porcine blood and three samples of a Newtonian fluid, and the results show blood acts as a shear thinning non-Newtonian fluid. Measurements also revealed that blood viscosity at SR = 200 s−1 is significantly larger than at SR = 1000 s−1 (13.8%, p < 0.001). Doppler ultrasound (DUS) was used to measure velocity profiles for blood and Newtonian samples at different flow rates to produce Reynolds numbers (Re) ranging from 1000 to 3300 (based on viscosity at SR = 1000 s−1). Two mathematically defined methods, based on the velocity profile shape change and turbulent kinetic energy (TKE), were used to detect TT. Results show similar parabolic velocity profiles for both blood and the Newtonian fluid for Re < 2200. However, differences were observed between blood and Newtonian fluid velocity profiles for larger Re. The Newtonian fluid had blunt-like velocity profiles starting at Re = 2403 ± 8 which indicated transition. In contrast, blood did not show this velocity profile change until Re = 2871 ± 104. The Newtonian fluid had large velocity fluctuations (root mean square (RMS) > 20%) with a maximum TKE near the pipe center at Re = 2316 ± 34 which indicated transition. In contrast, blood results showed the maximum TKE at Re = 2806 ± 109. Overall, the critical Re was delayed by ∼20% (p < 0.001) for blood compared to the Newtonian fluid. Thus, a Newtonian assumption for blood at flow conditions near transition could lead to large errors in velocity prediction for steady flow in a straight pipe. However, these results are specific to this pipe diameter and not generalizable since SR is highly dependent on pipe diameter. Further research is necessary to understand this relation in different pipe sizes, more complex geometries, and under pulsatile flow conditions.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
J Biomech Eng. 2016;138(7):071002-071002-11. doi:10.1115/1.4033516.

In finite-element (FE) models of the knee joint, patella is often omitted. We investigated the importance of patella and quadriceps forces on the knee joint motion by creating an FE model of the subject's knee. In addition, depthwise strains and stresses in patellar cartilage with different tissue properties were determined. An FE model was created from subject's magnetic resonance images. Knee rotations, moments, and translational forces during gait were recorded in a motion laboratory and used as an input for the model. Three material models were implemented into the patellar cartilage: (1) homogeneous model, (2) inhomogeneous (arcadelike fibrils), and (3) random fibrils at the superficial zone, mimicking early stages of osteoarthritis (OA). Implementation of patella and quadriceps forces into the model substantially reduced the internal–external femoral rotations (versus without patella). The simulated rotations in the model with the patella matched the measured rotations at its best. In the inhomogeneous model, maximum principal stresses increased substantially in the middle zone of the cartilage. The early OA model showed increased compressive strains in the superficial and middle zones of the cartilage and decreased stresses and fibril strains especially in the middle zone. The results suggest that patella and quadriceps forces should be included in moment- and force-driven FE knee joint models. The results indicate that the middle zone has a major role in resisting shear forces in the patellar cartilage. Also, early degenerative changes in the collagen network substantially affect the cartilage depthwise response in the patella during walking.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
J Biomech Eng. 2016;138(7):071003-071003-8. doi:10.1115/1.4033545.

A major challenge in the assessment of intersegmental spinal column angles during trunk motion is the inherent error in recording the movement of bony anatomical landmarks caused by soft tissue artifacts (STAs). This study aims to perform an uncertainty analysis and estimate the typical errors induced by STA into the intersegmental angles of a multisegment spinal column model during trunk bending in different directions by modeling the relative displacement between skin-mounted markers and actual bony landmarks during trunk bending. First, we modeled the maximum displacement of markers relative to the bony landmarks with a multivariate Gaussian distribution. In order to estimate the distribution parameters, we measured these relative displacements on five subjects at maximum trunk bending posture. Then, in order to model the error depending on trunk bending angle, we assumed that the error grows linearly as a function of the bending angle. Second, we applied our error model to the trunk motion measurement of 11 subjects to estimate the corrected trajectories of the bony landmarks and investigate the errors induced into the intersegmental angles of a multisegment spinal column model. For this purpose, the trunk was modeled as a seven-segment rigid-body system described using 23 reflective markers placed on various bony landmarks of the spinal column. Eleven seated subjects performed trunk bending in five directions and the three-dimensional (3D) intersegmental angles during trunk bending were calculated before and after error correction. While STA minimally affected the intersegmental angles in the sagittal plane (<16%), it considerably corrupted the intersegmental angles in the coronal (error ranged from 59% to 551%) and transverse (up to 161%) planes. Therefore, we recommend using the proposed error suppression technique for STA-induced error compensation as a tool to achieve more accurate spinal column kinematics measurements. Particularly, for intersegmental rotations in the coronal and transverse planes that have small range and are highly sensitive to measurement errors, the proposed technique makes the measurement more appropriate for use in clinical decision-making processes.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
J Biomech Eng. 2016;138(7):071004-071004-8. doi:10.1115/1.4033478.

Computational bone remodeling simulations have recently received significant attention with the aid of state-of-the-art high-resolution imaging modalities. They have been performed using localized finite element (FE) models rather than full FE models due to the excessive computational costs of full FE models. However, these localized bone remodeling simulations remain to be investigated in more depth. In particular, applying simplified loading conditions (e.g., uniform and unidirectional loads) to localized FE models have a severe limitation in a reliable subject-specific assessment. In order to effectively determine the physiological local bone loads for the volume of interest (VOI), this paper proposes a novel method of estimating the local loads when the global musculoskeletal loads are given. The proposed method is verified for the three VOI in a proximal femur in terms of force equilibrium, displacement field, and strain energy density (SED) distribution. The effect of the global load deviation on the local load estimation is also investigated by perturbing a hip joint contact force (HCF) in the femoral head. Deviation in force magnitude exhibits the greatest absolute changes in a SED distribution due to its own greatest deviation, whereas angular deviation perpendicular to a HCF provides the greatest relative change. With further in vivo force measurements and high-resolution clinical imaging modalities, the proposed method will contribute to the development of reliable patient-specific localized FE models, which can provide enhanced computational efficiency for iterative computing processes such as bone remodeling simulations.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
J Biomech Eng. 2016;138(7):071005-071005-15. doi:10.1115/1.4033674.

Many vascular disorders, including aortic aneurysms and dissections, are characterized by localized changes in wall composition and structure. Notwithstanding the importance of histopathologic changes that occur at the microstructural level, macroscopic manifestations ultimately dictate the mechanical functionality and structural integrity of the aortic wall. Understanding structure–function relationships locally is thus critical for gaining increased insight into conditions that render a vessel susceptible to disease or failure. Given the scarcity of human data, mouse models are increasingly useful in this regard. In this paper, we present a novel inverse characterization of regional, nonlinear, anisotropic properties of the murine aorta. Full-field biaxial data are collected using a panoramic-digital image correlation (p-DIC) system. An inverse method, based on the principle of virtual power (PVP), is used to estimate values of material parameters regionally for a microstructurally motivated constitutive relation. We validate our experimental–computational approach by comparing results to those from standard biaxial testing. The results for the nondiseased suprarenal abdominal aorta from apolipoprotein-E null mice reveal material heterogeneities, with significant differences between dorsal and ventral as well as between proximal and distal locations, which may arise in part due to differential perivascular support and localized branches. Overall results were validated for both a membrane and a thick-wall model that delineated medial and adventitial properties. Whereas full-field characterization can be useful in the study of normal arteries, we submit that it will be particularly useful for studying complex lesions such as aneurysms, which can now be pursued with confidence given the present validation.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
J Biomech Eng. 2016;138(7):071006-071006-8. doi:10.1115/1.4033517.

Biological tissues are typically constituted of dispersed fibers. Modeling the constitutive laws of such tissues remains a challenge. Direct integration over all fibers is considered to be accurate but requires very expensive numerical integration. A general structure tensor (GST) model was previously developed to bypass this costly numerical integration step, but there are concerns about the model's accuracy. Here we estimate the approximation error of the GST model. We further reveal that the GST model ignores strain energy induced by shearing motions. Subsequently, we propose a new characteristic-based constitutive law to better approximate the direct integration model. The new model is very cost-effective and closely approximates the “true” strain energy as calculated by the direct integration when stress–strain nonlinearity or fiber dispersion angle is small.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster

Technical Brief

J Biomech Eng. 2016;138(7):074501-074501-7. doi:10.1115/1.4033547.

We used a three-dimensional rigid body spring model (RBSM) to compare the contact force distributions on the acetabular surface of the infant hip joint that are produced by three orthopedic treatments for developmental dysplasia of the hip (DDH). We analyzed treatments using a Pavlik harness, a generic rigid splint, and a spica cast. The joint geometry was modeled from tomography images of a 1-year-old female. The articular cartilage was modeled as linear springs connecting the surfaces of the acetabulum and the femoral head, whereas the femur and the hip bone were considered as rigid bodies. The hip muscles were modeled as tensile-only preloaded springs. The treatments with the Pavlik harness and the generic rigid splint were modeled for an infant in supine position with a hip flexion angle of 90 deg. Also, since rigid splints are often recommended when children are initiating their gait phase, we modeled the treatment with the infant in standing position. For the spica cast, we only considered the infant in standing position with a flexion angle of 0 deg, and the fixation bar at two heights: at the ankle and at the knee. In order to analyze the effect of the hip abduction angle over the contact force distribution, different abduction angles were used for all the treatments modeled. We have found that the treatments with the infant in supine position, with a flexion angle of 90 deg and abduction angles between 60 deg and 80 deg, produce a more homogenous contact force distribution compared to those obtained for the treatments with the infant in standing position.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster

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