Summer Undergraduate Research Mentored Experience

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Dr. Roger Gonzalez

Department of Engineering Education & Leadership

University of Texas Joint Load Simulator or LIMBS International

Preferred major field of study or minimum required skills

Desired Majors: Mechanical, Electrical, and Biomedical Engineering.

Valued Skills: Computer-aided Design, Mechanical Design, Electrical Design, and Program Design.

Scholarly significance/intellectual merit

Dr. Gonzalez’ Joint Lab has been developing the University of Texas Joint Load Simulator (UTJLS) for investigation of human knee stability, knee ligament injury, and osteoarthritis (OA). Knee ligament injury and the instability that follows is a major clinical problem. While bony geometry of the knee provides marginal joint stability, surrounding soft tissues such as ligaments, meniscus, and the active force contributions of muscles are necessary for withstanding some of the highest dynamic forces in the body. As such, injury to the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) often results in knee instability, damage to collateral ligaments and menisci, and increased risk of OA. / The UTJLS is capable of overcoming critical barriers to progress in knee stability research by synchronously recreating muscle loads, external ground reaction forces, and joint kinematics on a cadaver knee specimen while measuring intersegmental force, ligament strain, and tibial translation.

Research question(s)

  • How does ACL rupture change internal knee loading conditions, and how does it influence onset of osteoarthritis?
  • Are knee braces effective in reducing risk of ACL failure?
  • What role does bony knee geometry play in ACL failure?
  • How does dynamic activity as compared to quasi-static knee movements alter internal knee loading conditions?

Methods/techniques/instruments to be learned/utilized

A wide range of engineering design techniques will be employed to support UTJLS development. This includes Solidworks (CAD), Labview (Visual Programming Language), and Component Fabrication (Mill, Lathe, Assembly, etc.). Undergraduate students will be exposed to standard musculoskeletal research techniques (e.g. motion capture) and cutting-edge in vitro simulation (e.g. operation of the UTJLS).