View Full Version : Summary: History of Biomechanics 1955-1975

Urban Fraefel
02-15-1999, 02:36 AM
Dear friends

Thank you very much for your contributions to my questions about history
of biomechanics. I am posting here the replys.

Urban Fraefel


Look at:
Stergiou, N. and D. Blanke (Submitted). Biomechanics. In: Introduction
to Exercise Science (T. Housh & D. Housh, Eds), Scottsdale, Arizona:
Gorsuch Scarisbrick Publ.

„... a chapter about Biomechanics that I wrote along with Dr. Daniel
Blanke. We have included very interesting stuff and there is a big
section about History of Biomechanics in the beginning. Many of your
questions can be answered after you will read this chapter.“

Dr. Nick Stergiou

„I wrote my dissertation on the History of Biomechanics in the United
States. I completed it in 1996. You can ILL it from the Texas Woman's
University Library*. It is under my name Dana M. Drewlinger.“

Dana M. Drewlinger, Ph.D., Texas Tech University

AUTHOR: Drewlinger, Dana Marilyn.
TITLE: Biomechanics. emergence of an academic discipline in the United
States / by Dana Marilyn Drewlinger. 1996, c1997.
THESIS / T1996 D776b

Look at:
Biomechanics: Mechanical Properties of Living Tissues, by YC Fung
published by Springer-Verlag, pages 1-13.

„Around the time period you refer to I think of August Krogh and
Archibald Hill, and I would certainly consider YC Fung himself, and also
Alf Nachemson.“

Douglas Chang

Look at:
"Biomechanics Monograph" which was published by the American Society of
Mechanical Engineers in 1967. The editors were Edward F. Byars (Univ. of
West Virginia), Renato Contini (New York University) and Verne Roberts
(Univ. of Michigan). The Library of Congress Card Catalog Number is
It contains an intoductory article by Herbert Lissner (Wayne State
Univ.) entitled, "Biomechanics -- What is it?" (pp. 1-11) that provides
a brief history of biomechanics ... going back to Aristotle. I think it
provides a fairly good description of "biomechanics" as it was seen at
that time (i.e., 1967).

Also published in the '55 to '70 time period:

Williams, M. and H. R. Lissner. BIOMECHANICS of Human Motion. W. B.
Saunders, Philadelphia, PA, 1962. (Marian Williams was at Stanford
School of Medicine, and Herbert Lissner was at Wayne State University,
in Detroit.) Library of Congress: 62-13591

Frost, H.M. An Introduction to BIOMECHANICS, Charles C. Thomas,
Springfield, IL, 1967. (Frost was at Henry Ford Hospital, in Detroit)
Library of Congress: 66-27434

Frankel, V. H. and A. H. Burstein. Orthopaedic BIOMECHANICS: The
Application of Engineering to the Musculoskeletal System. Lea &
Febiger, Philadelphia, 1970. (Both Frankel and Burstein were associated
with the Case Western Medical School, in Cleveland, Ohio.) Library of
Congress: 77-78537

You might also want to look for a copy of:

Proceedings of the "Symposium on BIOMECHANICS", which was published by
the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, London, in 1959.

For a "classic" text on orthopaedic biomechanics (as we know it today),
but published in 1955 with NO reference to the word "biomechanics", per
se, take a look at:

Steindler, Arthur. Kinesiology of the Human Body Under Normal and
Pathological Conditions. Chalres C. Thomas, Springfield, Illinois,
1955. (Steindler was a Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at The
University of Iowa, in Iowa City, Iowa.)

Jim WALTON, Chairman, SPIE Working Group on High-Speed Photography,
Videography and Photonics

„About one year ago, Paul Allard investigated the origin of the word,
"biomechanics." He reported on this list that as far as he could tell,
Moriz Benedikt was the first person to use this word in a paper, "Uber
mathematische morphologie und biomechanik," in the journal Wiesbadener
Naturforscherversammlungen. The year was 1887. Please contact Paul about
this for more specific information:

I identified what may have been the first laboratory to be named with
the word biomechanics in it. Vsevelod Meyerhold's Laboratory of
Biomechanics opened in about 1921 in Russia. The mission of the Lab was
to teach and study the biomechanical basis of acting. There are many
texts on Meyerhold and I wrote a brief description of his work and Lab
in the Nov-Dec 1996 ISB newsletter.“

Paul DeVita

„The earlier studies of musculo-skeletal biomechanics were reported as
mechanics or anatomical mechanics, e. g.:
Fick, Weber, Verh. Phys. Med. Gesell. XI, 123, 1877.
Braune, Fischer, Abh. Mathem.-Phys. Classe Königligl. Sächs. Gesell.
Wissensch. VIII, 393, 1888.
Mollier, Festschr. f. C. v. Kupffer, Jena, 1899.
Shiino, Arch. Anat. Physiol., Suppl., Anat. Abtig.,1, 1913.

These treatments employ a mechanical setting. In the 30ies and 40ies the
focus was shifted towards a more general (i.e. not purely mechanical)
functional approach (e. g. Inman et al., J. Joint and Bone Surg., 26, 1,
1944). The fuctional viewpoint paved the way for EMG in the 50ies (e. g.
Basmajian, Bazant, J. Joint and Bone Surg., 41A, 1182, 1959), and in the
60ies the first modelling attempts (c.f. Chaffin, J. Biomech., 2, 429,

A similar history may be found in the fields of impact biomechanics and
cell biomechanics, albeit shifted a decade or two forwards. My
impression is, that BIOMECHANICS emerged when the biological origin also
of the forces on the biological system was recognised.“

Christian Hoegfors, Associate professor, Biomechanics, Gothenburg,

Look at:
Swanson RA editors. ISBN# 0-87322-524-4. Copyright 1997 by Human

David Relling PT, MS, University of North Dakota
e-mail: drelling@medicine.nodak.edu

„Indeed, the word Biomechanics was - in Germany - not used in its
specific sence up to the early 60s. This in spite of the fact, that very
important contributions were made between 1935 and 1964, in particular
by the orthopedist F. PAUWELS (published together as a monograph
("Gesammelte Abhandlungen...") in 1965). His work was continued and
expanded, beginning in 1959, by the anatomist B.KUMMER ("Bauprinzipien
des Saeugerskeletes"). These approaches were termed either
"biomechanics", or "functional anatomy". Even against the end of the
60s, when I, or E. Amtmann published our first studies, both terms were
still used side by side. What all these papers have in common, is the
attempt to understand biological shape, at that time with the aid of
Kinetics were first used by authors like PLAGENHOEF and other sports
biomechanists to understand and describe movements of the body. The work
done in Japan should not be overlooked. My own experience is connected
(since the early 70s) with the names Kimura, Ishida, Okada and Yamasaki,
but these have not been the first to apply mechanics to biology. The
problem is, that it is terribly difficult to get access to those
articles which have priority, because so much was - and still is -
published in Japanese. The best way may be a letter to one of them,
asking for more information.
The titles mentioned in the letters of Urban Fraefel and Jim Walton were
known here, read and appreciated, but not so extremely influential.

On the present state of knowledge, I tend now to call all approaches
to biology, or scientific work involving biology "Biomechanics", and to
discriminate (as in mechanics) between biostatics and biokinetics. A
further way to systematize the field can be made between the a i m s
of the studies:
- Understanding shapes of humans and animals and the reasons for the
differentiation of tissues (Causal histology). For this purpose WE have
in the meantime recruited k i n e t i c s as well.
- Understanding and improving movements in the context of sports or
ergonomics, maybe including accidents.
- Maybe this list is not complete
- Work to design and to improve implants“

Holger Preuschoft

„In 1945, the United States Veterans Administration commissioned Verne
Inman, an orthopaedic surgeon, and Howard Eberhart, a civil engineer and
below-knee amputee, to conduct fundamental studies of human locomotion.
The goal of the project was to obtain basic information about normal and
amputee locomotion that could be used to improve the treatment of
amputees. This initial, very intensive project was completed in 1947
with the publication of a large report by the University of California
Fundamental studies of human locomotion and other information relating
to design of artificial limbs. Prosthetic Devices Research Project
Subcontractor's Final Report to the Committee on Artificial Limbs,
National Research Council. 2 volumes, 1947.

After 1947, work continued in a series of projects on the design of
prosthetic and orthotic devices until the mid 1980s. Inman and Eberhart
were the first, I believe, of several notable Orthopaedis/Engineer teams
working in biomechanics. Frankel and Burstein were another. Sometime
in the 50's, I think, the project became known as the University of
California Biomechanics Laboratory (UC-BL). I joined the project in
1963 and worked there through 1981. In 1981, a book was published that
summarized all of the work done in the Laboratory to that time.

Inman, VT, Ralston, HJ, and Todd, Frank (1981). Human Walking.
Williams and Wilkins, Baltimore/London.
There has been a second edition of this book, with the same title but
quite different content. It is the first edition that will be of most

Inman, Ralston, and Eberhart have all died, but Frank Todd is still
alive and reasonably well, living in Berkeley, California. He was, in
my opinion, one of the world's most knowledgeable people about the study
of human walking by the time he retired in the early eighties. ...“

Larry Lamoreux, Ph.D., GAIT DIMENSION, Lafayette
Email: LLamoreux@aol.com

Mentioned several times:

"Biolocomotion: A century of research using moving pictures"
by Cappozzo, Marchetti and Tosi (Eds.)
ISB Book Series Volume 1
Promograph-Roma (1992)
ISBN 88-86125-00-3

To unsubscribe send SIGNOFF BIOMCH-L to LISTSERV@nic.surfnet.nl
For information and archives: http://isb.ri.ccf.org/biomch-l