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Summary: History of Biomechanics 1955-1975

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  • Summary: History of Biomechanics 1955-1975

    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

    „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

    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

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