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What Is Tissue Biomechanics?

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  • Written By: Andrew Kirmayer
  • Edited By: Shereen Skola
  • Last Modified Date: 23 November 2016
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Tissue biomechanics is the study of how different parts of the human body, such as bone, tendons, and muscle, react to external forces. Researchers have analyzed the mechanical properties of these tissues, which ordinarily can withstand a certain level of force before being damaged. Average tolerance levels have been estimated for each, which have often aided in many different studies. Motion, force, and acceleration of healthy tissue can hit specific levels and cause either sudden damage or degradation that can occur over time. Tissue biomechanics is often used to determine how an injury took place or to assess the viability of prosthetic devices or medical implants.

Forces that cause stress on tissue, or make it change shape, may actually be beneficial, at times. Normal bone development often depends on pressures exerted by regular motion and even gravity. Too little pressure, such as during space travel or prolonged bed rest, can lead to bone abnormalities or weakening. Other tissues such as tendons and ligaments can weaken as well, while repeated stressful motions can damage these structures. The mechanical causes of damage, based on knowledge of anatomy and physiology, are typically studied in tissue biomechanics.

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While conducting biomechanical analysis, the potential for damage can be assessed depending on the nature of the events and forces acting on the tissue. An average tolerance level for most tissues is known. For individual people, however, height, weight, gender, and age can also be factors, as well as bone conditions such as osteoarthritis. Evaluating the damage to tissue is often done by collecting the details of an accident and information related to it. The patterns of injury can then be assessed, while the data can be used to reconstruct the accident and find a cause to the injury.

By using tissue biomechanics principles, the loading conditions can be defined, and just how an injury took place can be determined. The findings are often compared to known patterns of injury, as well as the tolerance levels already defined for particular tissues. Analysis of bone tissue can incorporate the knowledge of how skeletal components are constructed. The division of bone into smaller and smaller parts, including collagen fibers and small canals, can help with medical and biomechanical analysis.

Muscle tissue as well as tendon structures typically have fibrous elements that contribute to their strength. Tendons are usually divided into subsequently smaller fibers that are made of microscopic strands of collagen. Tissue biomechanics can also be aided by substances such as calcium and growth enzymes. Medical specialists often take these into account when conducting bone grafts, fixing torn ligaments, and aiding in healing other damaged tissues.

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