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Researcher:

  • Photo of Amy LernerAmy L. Lerner, Ph.D.

    Orthopaedic biomechanics, bone growth and development, cartilage mechanics, medical image-based finite element modeling, knee biomechanics

Understanding the Risks for Knee Osteoarthritis

FE model of proximal tibia depicts pressure concentrations in bone, cartilage and meniscus.

Osteoarthritis and knee pain are common disabilities that interfere with daily activities and exercise in millions of people, however understanding the specific risks for each individual remains challenging. We know that post-menopausal women, people who are overweight, and those who have experienced a knee injury are at greater risk, but there are many interactions between the biological and mechanical factors involved in these risks.

Using our computational models, combined with a systematic Design of Experiments approach, we are investigating the relative importance of factors such as limb alignment, obesity, bone material properties and gait patterns in determining knee joint stresses that may lead to osteoarthritis. Comparisons to the results of clinical studies allow us to confirm the predictions of our computational modeling, while making it possible to better understand the interactions between complex factors. Our goals will be to extend these studies to include investigations of more complex activities, as well as a more detailed look at the role of the meniscus in load distribution. This approach may help us to design safe and effective exercise strategies for people who are overweight, or those who have experienced knee injuries.