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  • DISCUSSION FORUM ON CONTEMPORARY ISSUES IN BIOMECHANICS

    Dear Colleagues,

    I very much enjoyed reading the various contributions over the last
    couple of weeks regarding CONTROVERSIAL TOPICS IN BIOMECHANICS. There
    seems to be wide interest in „the future direction of biomechanics“.

    The most recent contributions, however, gave me the impression that
    biomechanics is mostly related to gait analysis and analytical modelling
    techniques. I would like to share a few of my thoughts with you. It may
    be that these ideas turn out to be of little importance to the majority,
    so please excuse me for stealing your time.

    In light of the discussion on CONTROVERSIAL TOPICS IN BIOMECHANICS, a
    more updated agreement on what can be defined as "biomechanics" may
    help. Just to remind you all: This field is wide and reaches from macro
    movement analysis to microscopical cell-cell interactions and from
    implant testing to fluid-flow analyses. A common ground may not only
    help, but be a pre-requirement for identifying current needs and future
    goals.

    Since the definition will vary between individuals and groups it may not
    even be possible to find a generally accepted definition at all. Most of
    you will agree that biomechanics is a part of research and not just a
    collection of tools (an old discussion topic from this list).
    Biomechanics tends to frequently develop tools rather than solve
    questions that others consider of scientific necessity. To me,
    biomechanics is the science that interprets biological systems by means
    of mechanical rules and principles. Thus, biomechanics is not limited to
    mechanical analysis, but links mechanical science with other biological
    disciplines.

    Due to the fact that biomechanics is per se a combination of different
    scientific disciplines, it has tremendous potential during
    sub-specialisation to be at the forefront of most medical as well as
    technical fields. The biomechanical researcher has the potential (and
    task?) of integrating and serving as communicator between disciplines.
    Based on this, biomechanics is not only a collection of methods and
    techniques but a connecting discipline. The reason for connecting
    various scientific areas is usually a particular hypothesis.

    To me, most of the recent discussions have neglected the fact that
    research should be - at least to some degree - driven by a specific
    hypothesis. The accuracy of systems, model precision or boundary
    conditions may only be analysed in light of this specific hypothesis.
    Having developed quite a large number of analytical models, I do not
    believe that there is any form of an ultimate model! Consequently, I do
    not believe that the future of biomechanics lies with better or more
    accurate models.

    Biomechanics will have a bright future if it is understood as a science
    that;

    - serves as the COMMUNICATOR between different research fields.
    Biomechanicists are usually well trained to understand people from other
    disciplines. Shouldn't we use this gift more frequently than we
    currently do? An example: Genetics is currently the explanation for many
    clinical problems and from which we experience a number of potential
    solutions. Although this field may seem distant from our own, it will
    also require interaction with biomechanical engineers to succeed in
    bringing microscopical solutions to the needs of the musculo-skeletal
    system. It is not only about the testing of biological tissue - it is
    about designing new solutions in a co-operative manner! Further to this,
    biomechanical researchers may even help to interpret certain results
    from our colleagues in the genetics field.

    - tries to find INDIVIDUAL solutions to patient problems. A number of
    clinical cases lack the applicability of standard bones or standard
    mechanical loading scenarios. Biomechanics will need to meet the needs
    of these individuals. A consequent individualisation of biomechanical
    analyses seems to be a way to go.

    - connects the lab environment with the "real world". Most
    biomechanicists consider testing in a lab environment as "biomechanical
    testing". However, biomechanics involves living tissue. In the future,
    researchers will need to include not only testing of dead material in a
    machine but more and more frequently be required to test in the
    operating theatre and clinical environment etc. "FROM BENCH TO BED" will
    be a requirement for the biomechanical sciences to meet.

    - with free EXCHANGE of DATA. I am convinced that exchange of data and
    know-how within the biomechanical community needs further improvement.
    Large databases exist on multiple problems but still an enormous amount
    of time is wasted by duplicating data that should be freely available on
    the net.

    This is by no means a complete list. Many points may have been described
    by others in more detail. However, I felt that the current discussion
    focused too much in the direction of improving techniques without
    concentrating on what these techniques were developed for. Any model is
    only as good as it is meant to be. And, unfortunately, all our efforts
    to solve problems in the sports science or medical fields will have to
    use models to describe and analyse the real world. Data collection (even
    in vivo), by definition, is only a model for the complete and complex
    environment we are living in. Maybe we should be more aware of this in
    our discussion on future goals for the biomechanic community.

    Many greetings,
    Georg Duda
    --
    __________________________________________________ ____
    Priv.-Doz. Dr.-Ing. Georg Duda
    Trauma and Reconstructive Surgery
    - Research Laboratory -
    Charite, Campus Virchow-Clinic
    Humboldt University
    Augustenburger Platz 1, D-13 353 Berlin
    tel: +49.30.450.559079 (Office)
    tel: +49.30.450.552012 (Dept.Sec'y)
    fax: +49.30.450.559969
    email: georg.duda@charite.de
    www: http://www.charite.de/biomechanik
    __________________________________________________ ____

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