About the Lab

The Orthopedic Biomechanics Laboratory under the direction of Timothy Hewett, Ph.D., brings laboratory knowledge of human joint movement and tissue mechanics to the forefront of injury prevention and repair. The research team works to make scientific, data-supported advancements that lead to efficacious changes in practice relative to joint injury risk screening, injury risk prevention and post-injury rehabilitation. Specifically, the Orthopedic Biomechanics Laboratory specializes in the area of mechanical sports injuries, with a primary focus on the lower extremity.

Laboratory-obtained knowledge can lead to significant changes in clinical practice. Members of the Orthopedic Biomechanics research team have used laboratory-defined risk factors to develop clinically applied nomogram screening tools to assess athletes for relative risk of knee injury. Such tools are valuable to clinicians as prospective laboratory investigations have demonstrated that athletes at high risk of injury experience the greatest biomechanical benefits from injury prevention protocols.

Similarly, quantification of mechanical properties in a dynamic, physiologically relevant environment can lead to beneficial recommendations in surgical, preventive and rehabilitative practice. Understanding how surgical repairs differ from native tissue can lead to advancements and tweaks in surgical methods that produce better survivability and long-term outcomes in tissue grafts.

The goals of the team are to identify the mechanisms underlying musculoskeletal injuries and develop effective interventions for prevention, diagnosis and treatment of these injuries. In addition, this research will lead to efficacious changes in practice in orthopedic and sports medicine that will enhance the quality of life for those prone to or affected by joint and motion-related injuries.

Research

The Orthopedic Biomechanics Laboratory staff conducts numerous studies into physical and psychological issues affecting recreational, amateur and professional athletes. Some current areas of research interest include:

  • Clinical, functional and biomechanical screening of high school, collegiate and Olympic and professional-level athletes
  • Identification of athletes at high risk of primary and secondary anterior cruciate ligament injury
  • Neuromuscular intervention targeted to mechanisms of anterior cruciate ligament load in female athletes
  • Prevention of secondary anterior cruciate ligament injuries
  • Neural mechanisms of anterior cruciate ligament injury and rehabilitation
  • Protective effect of anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction in preventing symptomatic arthritis and symptomatic meniscal tears
  • Modeling anterior cruciate ligament injuries in cadaveric specimens
  • Shear wave electrography of muscular and ligamentous structures in cadaveric specimens
  • Lower extremity proprioception