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Project: Development of “in vivo” experimental techniques and modeling methodologies for the evaluation of the mechanical load applied on the musculoskeletal system

Acronym: InVivoMuscle
Main Objective:
The main goal is to pursue interdisciplinary research involving muscle physiology, biomechanics and neuromuscular control. The actual focus is to conduct research for the evaluation of biomechanical load on the musculoskeletal system. Our underlying hypothesis is that the increasing of the amount of exercise can positively influence biological tissue morphology and functional mechanical properties. Nevertheless, excessive loading, both in intensity as well as frequency and volume, can be associated to acute and chronic musculoskeletal impairments. We aim to study the effect of specific mechanical loads in the musculoskeletal system, with special emphasis in the muscle-tendon complex, and the cartilage. The study will be centered on architectural/structural, functional and neuromuscular chronic and acute changes associated to the mechanical load supported while the body is undergoing exercise routines, of moderate to high mechanical cyclic loading.
To accomplish the study of the biological tissue chronic and acute adaptations to cyclic mechanical loading two complementary approaches will be used: (1) in vivo imaging methodologies (magnetic resonance imaging - MRI - and ultrasonography - US); (2) biomechanics modeling.
We are concerned with the changes in muscle and tendon stiffness, cartilage thickness and collagen arrangement. The neuromuscular control systems are sensitive to neural fatigue, and this can be measured through EMG. These changes will be assessed and introduced into the models throughout the redefinition of the activation process. Structural and functional analysis of cartilage and muscle-tendon complex before and after mechanical load will be available from MRI and SE. The resulting information will be correlated and those changes will be related with the estimated joint loading (using biomechanical modeling). All this data will be further analyzed applying clustering techniques for exploratory data analysis, crossing it with the different types of mechanical loads.
Reference: PTDC/DES/103178/2008
Funding: FCT/PTDC
Start Date: 01-02-2010
End Date: 01-08-2013
Team: Ana Luisa Nobre Fred, Andre Ribeiro Lourenco
Groups: Pattern and Image Analysis – Lx
Partners: Faculdade de Motricidade Humana (FMH/UTL), Fundação da Faculdade de Ciências e Tecnologia (FFCT/FCT/UNL)
Local Coordinator: Ana Luisa Nobre Fred
Links: Internal Page
Associated Publications