The McMaster Injury Biomechanics Laboratory has a wide variety of testing equipment. Two materials testing machines facilitate quasi-static testing of biological tissues and mechanical components. A custom pneumatic impacting apparatus allows us to apply a wide range of dynamic conditions to both cadaveric and ATD specimens (including falls, automotive collisions, and military blast events). It is instrumented with load cells, accelerometers, and other sensors to develop new injury criteria, and a high speed camera records all impact events. We also have access to medical imaging (DXA, CT, x-ray) and finite element modeling packages.
Injury Criteria Development
One of the primary goals of the Injury Biomechanics Laboratory is to develop comprehensive injury limits for the human body, and translate these to industry through similar testing of Anthropomorphic Test Devices (ATDs, or 'crash test dummies').
Some of the scenarios we have investigated include the effect of ankle posture on fracture risk, bone density as a predictor of hip fracture risk from falls, loading rate comparing military blast with automotive collision scenarios, and we are currently starting work on upper limb injuries.
Orthopaedic Device Design
Design and evaluation of orthopaedic devices for fracture repair is an important area to apply biomechanical engineering. Fracture plates must allow the right amount of relative motion between bone fragments to encourage new bone growth. Working with surgical colleagues, we evaluate the performance of such devices in order to better inform their treatment of patients with serious injuries.
Numerical Modeling of Fracture
Testing of biological specimens provides a lot of information about the factors influencing their injury risk, but are limited in the number of tests. Finite element modeling uses CT scans of specimens to build computational models, which allow us to investigate other factors that can influence injury potential.
The other method we use for assessing injury risk using computers is through analysis of medical images. New techniques we are developing in the lab allow us to better predict who in the older adult population is at greatest risk of sustaining a fracture from a fall. This critical diagnostic tool will facilitate implementation of protective measures.