Knee mechanics and osteoarthritis

Researcher: Professor Stacey Acker

The configuration of the knee joint is such that most of its stability is provided by the soft tissues, rather than bony structures. As the knee joint travels through its range of motion, the configuration of the components of the joint (bones, muscles, ligaments, contact areas) changes significantly. The research in this theme uses data from participants in the laboratory to answer questions about knee joint health and to inform biomechanical models that simulate the mechanical environment in the knee joint throughout its full range of motion.  Research questions include:

  • What are the biomechanical mechanisms responsible for the increased risk of knee osteoarthritis associated with frequent squatting and kneeling?
  • Does prolonged kneeling affect gait, laxity or proprioception?
  • Squatting and kneeling are more prevalent in East Asia than in North America. Why are the typical postures different? Are the differences cultural, anthropometric, or is there a biomechanical protective mechanism at work?
  • How does thigh-calf contact force affect the tibiofemoral knee joint contact force?

Occupational biomechanics

Researchers: Professor Stacey AckerProfessor Steve Prentice

The Department of Kinesiology at the University of Waterloo hosts many experts in occupational biomechanics and ergonomics. The Department is also home to the Centre of Research Expertise for the Prevention of Musculoskeletal Disorders (CRE-MSD), a network of researchers from across the province who focus on the understanding and prevention of work-related musculoskeletal disorders. Within this theme, researchers in the Biomechanics of Human Mobility Laboratory focus on lower limb biomechanics and motor control in occupational applications. Research questions include:

  • How does work-boot wear affect ankle and knee joint mechanics and muscular control? Could it increase joint loading and the risk of joint degeneration?
  • Does the mass or location of a lifted load affect joint loading?
  • Do frequent kneelers (tile installers) and non-kneelers have different knee mechanics during kneeling or level walking? Does Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) indicate differences related to these changes in mechanics?
  • What are the early structural signs of cartilage damage (knee osteoarthritis) in workers who kneel frequently?