A new twist on an age-old problem: Making knee replacements last

to test new implant designs is ineffective, Fregly said. Simulators designed to highlight the places artificial knees will develop wear require up to three months and cost as much as $40,000 for an assessment, yet the results don't consistently equate to what occurs in patients, Fregly said. As a result, his team which includes Greg Sawyer, a UF assistant professor of mechanical engineering, and Scott Banks, technical director of the nonprofit Biomotion Foundation in West Palm Beach -- is developing a better way to test new implant designs. The researchers' key innovation: Combining motion data recorded from artificial knees with computer simulations of walking using physiological loads and speeds to create the first-ever computational wear models for knees, or models that make quantifiable predictions of deterioration of artificial knees.

An early version of system came within a few tenths of a millimeter of predicting the wear in an artificial knee that was recovered after a patient died and accurately predicted the locations of the worst wear, Fregly said. "That's pretty good for a first crack," he said. "Once this model is more complete, it could allow surgeons to rapidly select knee designs on a more individual patient basis." Scott Delp, an associate professor of biomechanical engineering at Stanford University, said Fregly's research offers a unique solution to a complex problem.

"It is not possible to simulate the motions and functions of knee implants without the advanced software tools like Professor Fregly has developed," he said. "His technology offers an entirely new paradigm for simulation-based design and evaluation of knee surgery." Fregly and the others hope the research team and orthopedic surgeons eventually will work together to perform virtual surgery on a computer model, a feat that would enable them to predict the surgical parameters or modifications to an implant that will produce the best outcome. They would then track patien

Contact: B.J. Fregly
University of Florida

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