Pictured at the symposium are (from left) Brian Knarr, keynote speaker Darryl D'Lima and Federico Pozzi.

CBER celebration

Biomechanics symposium features D'Lima, noted expert on orthopedic research

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10:04 a.m., April 30, 2012--Unless you have sustained a knee injury, it is unlikely that you have considered the amount of tibial forces exerted during leisure activities such as jogging, biking or skiing. However, forces on the knee are a crucial component in everyday life.

For Darryl D’Lima, understanding how forces in the knee affect individuals’ lives is a passion. 

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D’Lima, director of the Orthopaedic Research Laboratories at the Shiley Center for Orthpaedic Research and Education (SCORE) at Scripps Clinic in San Diego, California, was the keynote speaker at the University of Delaware’s ninth annual CBER Day research symposium, held April 23 at UD’s Clayton Hall.

Organized by the University’s Center for Biomedical Engineering Research (CBER), the symposium brings together faculty and students from various biomedical and bioengineering disciplines.

D’Lima’s expertise lies in the measurement of tibial and tibiofemoral forces in the knee and its effect on both leisure and daily living activities. D’Lima’s research team developed an electronic knee implant known as a tibial tray that uses a microprocessor to read forces exerted on or by the knee through an array of activities and translate them into data.

The data, compiled over four years, enabled D’Lima and his team to gauge which activities were safer for patients to engage in post-surgery. For example, the research showed that golfing places more force on the knee than expected and could lead to potential complications, while kneeling required less knee impact than once believed. 

D’Lima’s presentation reviewed the effects and benefits of orthotics, braces, walking aids, gait retraining and other rehabilitative exercises on surgically adjusted knee forces. He also discussed the benefits and advantages of studying these forces on living subjects (in vivo) as opposed to the laboratory setting, away from the biological context (in vitro). 

“Measuring these forces in vivo can improve preexisting in vitro methods, prosthetics, biomaterials and activities following knee replacement,” explained D’Lima.

Doctoral students Brian Knarr and Federico Pozzi were among the first to arrive for D’Lima’s keynote address.

“D’Lima’s work on measuring forces within the knee during various activities is particularly relevant to research on osteoarthritis and knee replacement performed here at UD, including my own research. It was particularly enlightening to hear about the difficulties D’Lima faced getting his device approved by the medical community,” remarked Knarr, doctoral student in UD’s Biomechanics and Movement Sciences (BIOMS) program.

“[CBER Day] is a great way to get involved and see the research happening at UD at different levels,” said Pozzi, a first year doctoral student studying physical therapy, and member of the BIOMS program. “I found D’Lima’s work specifically beneficial because, as a physical therapist, patients frequently ask me what activities they can safely perform following knee replacement.”

In addition to the keynote, the event included 10 podium and 32 poster presentations by students and faculty. Involved with CBER Day since 2007, Knarr presented his work on the changes in knee contact force with experimental and simulated differences in body weight. Pozzi contributed a poster on loading patterns in “step up and over” tests and their effects on total knee arthroplasty (TKA).

“Attending the event was a great source of inspiration for future collaborations. The feedback I received on my poster has given me wonderful ideas on how to review, analyze and improve my research,” added Pozzi.

The event concluded with an award session where four presentations were honored. Poster presentation winners included Sumayeh Abujaber for her research entitled “Sit to Stand Mechanics after Symmetry Training for Patients after Total Knee Arthroplasty” and Spencer Szczesny for research entitled “Biaxial Tensile Testing and Constitutive Modeling of Human Supraspinatus Tendon.” 

The awarded podium presentations included Emily Gardinier’s “Loading Asymmetries in Athletes Who Do and Do Not Meet Return-to-Sport Readiness Criteria” and Woojin Han’s “Micro-Scale Strain Transfer in Fiber-Reinforced Native Tissues and Cell-Seeded Aligned Nanofibrous Scaffolds.”

Article by Zac Anderson

Photo by Ambre Alexander

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