Bone mechanics and health: Can we reverse/delay the aging process of our bone?
We all know, probability attributing to the NASA experiments or through common knowledge, exercise promote bone growth and the lack of it, with or without the aging process makes bone weaker. However, what we don’t know is how much exercise, and in what form is good for us?
Using advanced high-resolution medical imaging and adaptive computational modelling techniques, we quantitatively exam the structural-function relationships and the adaptation process of human bone health in-vivo across multiple length scales. The coupling of this experimental and computational process forms a closed-loop system which can be trained as diagnostic tool, offering a number of scientific and clinical benefits. Fundamentally, it helps us to advance our knowledge on bone mechanics: its mechanical superiority/limit, the driving forces for its structural adaptation and the variational factors among us (age, ethnic, gender, health and physical conditions, etc.). Secondly, it provides new hope for the early detection of degenerative bone disease such as osteoporosis. Last but not the least, by understanding the limit and adaptation process, we can better inform our physical exercise and even reverse/delay the aging process in the future.
The project is a combination of multiple projects coalescing around the centre topic of bone mechanics. For its multi-disciplinary nature, the project is in collaboration with engineers, scientists, clinicians and Physiotherapists from the leading research centres in UK, including the National Centre for Sport and Exercise Medicine in Loughborough University and the Metabolic Centre for Bone Research in University of Sheffield. The project employs a controlled physical exercise protocol, in conjunction with the in-vivo clinical HR-pqCT imaging and advanced computation to assess both the mechanical and morphological aspects of human bone tissue.
We demonstrated that there were significant regional variations of morphological and mechanical parameters of human trabecular bone at the distal tibia. The correlations between regional morphological parameters and mechanical competence of trabecular bone were consistent at all regions studied, with regional BV/TV showing the highest correlation. On-going research has been carried out on exercise-induced bone adaptation and the development of an adaptive computational modelling framework.
Dr Simin Li - Senior Lecturer in Mechanics of Biomaterials
“After centuries of scientific studies on bone mechanics, we are still at the forefront of a new era of discovery for this fascinating natural material, through the adoption of advanced imaging and computational techniques.”