Research performed in the Division of Sports Medicine is coordinated by Adam Yanke MD, PhD (Director of Sports Medicine Clinical Research) and Jorge Chahla MD, PhD (Director of Sports Medicine Biomechanics Research).
All studies are conducted in close collaboration with sports medicine physicians at Rush, and frequently with faculty from other basic science and clinical departments (e.g., biochemistry, anatomy and cell biology, radiology).
Fellows will have the opportunity to participate in a diverse breadth of research projects ranging from basic science research (biomechanics, biomotion analysis, biological treatments, virtual reality, computer modeling) and clinical research with one of the most powerful databases in sports medicine in the country. Involvement is highly encouraged as this is a significant aspect of the “Rush” experience. Research mentorship will aid in not only the successful completion of the project but also lifelong collaboration within the department.
The sports medicine department is world renowned for its productivity with over 170 publications per year in high impact orthopedic and sports medicine journals. This is the result of a conjoint effort between clinicians and the different research departments. Two world-class Motion Analysis Labs (equipped with several optoelectronic cameras, force plates, wearable sensors, dynamometers, wireless pressure detectors, motion monitors, etc) can analyze 3D motion of several joints, as well as loading and muscular contribution during a variety of tasks. We are equipped to quantify detailed movement of the feet, ankles, knees, and hips during functional tasks including walking on level or ramped surfaces, ascending or descending stairs, and other common daily activities. The laboratory is also outfitted to assess upper extremity and full body motion for dynamic activities such as pitching, as well as functional tasks.
The sports medicine research laboratory has the capacity to evaluate soft tissues properties including cartilage, tendon, meniscus and ligaments. Our laboratory mission is to improve the understanding, diagnosis and treatment of sports-related injuries through translational research studies which elucidate the biomechanical, morphologic and biologic properties of skeletal joints and associated soft connective tissues in their normal, injured, and healing states. From quantitative anatomy to descriptive soft tissue biomechanics (assessment of joint kinematics/pressures and compression/tensile material testing), contact and pressure sensors, to 3D printing, this constitutes a comprehensive laboratory for musculoskeletal research. Available technology within the lab includes: An MTS Insight 5 electromechanical testing system, a SpicaTek digital video imaging system for optical strain measurement; utilized in conjunction with MTS machine, Biaxial (linear and torque) hydraulic materials testing machine (Instron 8874) and a four-camera infrared motion tracking system (Motion Analysis Corp.) for 3D kinematic measurements; utilized in conjunction with Instron machine, Microscribe MX portable 3D coordinate measuring machine (Immersion Corp.) Laser displacement sensor (Keyence Corp.) and a NextEngine 2020i high-resolution laser scanner.
Musculoskeletal imaging constitutes one of the main focus of our department as well. Cutting edge imaging protocols for diagnosis and treatment evaluation are of utmost importance. To this, the development of finite element analysis models of the PF joint and cartilage strain mapping has been successfully performed. Computer simulation looking at ligament length changes and surface topography matching for cartilage transplants all with custom written software has been used to better understand isometric properties of different structures.
The Section of Molecular Medicine in the Department of Orthopedic Surgery applies biochemistry, cell biology, basic molecular biology, signal transduction and immunology to various problems in orthopedics. Among the research, highlights are biological treatment characterization, cartilage and tendon metabolism, genome mapping of disease-promoting genes, characterization of molecules provoking immune attacks in joints, and epigenetic factors involved in the regulatory network of inflammatory processes in joints. Additionally, there are some current animal model studies being done in conjunction with Colorado State University.
Ongoing investigations can be broadly categorized as follows:
- Quantitative, 3D anatomic studies for the refinement of surgical techniques (e.g., orientation of bone tunnels for ACL reconstruction)
- Biomechanical studies of the stability and strength afforded by surgical fixation techniques (e.g., comparison of different biologic graft materials and hardware for tissue repair; assessment of joint contact pressures and 3D joint kinematics following simulated pathology and surgical repair)
- Preclinical, industry-sponsored studies (e.g., evaluation of therapeutic devices, drugs, or tissue engineering strategies needed for FDA approval)
- Assessment of microscopic, biologic and biomechanical properties of normal, injured, and healing musculoskeletal soft tissues using animal models (e.g., to assess roles of specific tissue matrix proteins and/or surgical repair techniques on the quality of healing)
- Development and application of noninvasive imaging techniques for quantitative assessment of tissue structure and integrity