Knee joint biomechanics and cartilage damage prediction during landing: A hybrid MD-FE-musculoskeletal modeling

M Adouni and F Alkhatib and A Gouissem and TR Faisal, PLOS ONE, 18 (2023).

DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0287479

Understanding the mechanics behind knee joint injuries and providing appropriate treatment is crucial for improving physical function, quality of life, and employability. In this study, we used a hybrid molecular dynamics-finite element-musculoskeletal model to determine the level of loads the knee can withstand when landing from different heights (20, 40, 60 cm), including the height at which cartilage damage occurs. The model was driven by kinematics-kinetics data of asymptomatic subjects at the peak loading instance of drop landing. Our analysis revealed that as landing height increased, the forces on the knee joint also increased, particularly in the vastus muscles and medial gastrocnemius. The patellar tendon experienced more stress than other ligaments, and the medial plateau supported most of the tibial cartilage contact forces and stresses. The load was mostly transmitted through cartilage-cartilage interaction and increased with landing height. The critical height of 126 cm, at which cartilage damage was initiated, was determined by extrapolating the collected data using an iterative approach. Damage initiation and propagation were mainly located in the superficial layers of the tibiofemoral and patellofemoral cartilage. Finally, this study provides valuable insights into the mechanisms of landing-associated cartilage damage and could help limit joint injuries and improve training programs.

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