Duane A. Morrow, PhD, studies the mechanics of muscle force production and the musculoskeletal biomechanics of human movement. Through the application of mechanical engineering principles, Dr. Morrow and his colleagues are establishing methods to enable the clinical measurement of individual muscle force production using a novel intramuscular pressure microsensor.
Additionally, Dr. Morrow and the team in the Motion Analysis Laboratory aid in the determination of the root causes of functional deficits that impede a person's ability to perform activities of daily living.
- Clinical Measurement of Muscle Force: Current clinical strength assessments typically involve the measurement of joint torque. While helpful in determining functional capacity, these measures cannot assess the performance of individual muscles. Quantitative assessment of individual muscle force production can identify muscle pathologies masked by compensations from other muscles and more sensitively monitor muscle response to therapeutic interventions.
- Development of a Clinical Intramuscular Pressure Microsensor: Recent advances in electronics and micromachining have led to the development of minimally invasive microsensors capable of measuring interstitial fluid pressure to quantify muscle force. Dr. Morrow and his group are helping to bring this technology to clinical exam rooms and operating rooms to directly monitor muscle viability.
- Computational Modeling of Skeletal Muscle: Advanced computational models are needed to fully understand how muscle geometry, location, and activation may alter intramuscular fluid pressure. Dr. Morrow's team is leading the development of these models to help more effectively and efficiently predict intramuscular pressure in various muscles and predict how this pressure may be affected by pathology.
- Upper Extremity Function: Effective use of the upper extremities is an important component of many activities of daily living. Dr. Morrow and his colleagues develop techniques for more precise assessment of many facets of upper extremity movement, ranging from shoulder strength and range-of-motion in sport injury and manual wheelchair use, to accurate quantification of tremor in patients with neuromuscular disorders.
Significance to Patient Care
Dr. Morrow's work will enable more targeted and accurate measurement of invivo muscle force. Increased specificity of muscle force production will allow for greater precision in the diagnosis and monitoring of neuromuscular disease and enhanced assessment of the efficacy of interventions. Additionally, the ability to assess individual muscle function can help select an optimal donor from potential candidate muscles in muscle-tendon transfer surgeries. Coupling better understanding of muscle function with meaningful descriptions of upper extremity kinematics can be used to maintain or restore activities of daily living for those whose functional capacity is threatened by disease, disorder, or injury.