October 22, 2013

Cornell Researchers Investigate How Bones Break

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By JAMES GUO

Instead of studying single, high-impact bone damages, as other experiments have explored in the past, Prof. Marjolein van der Meulen, mechanical and aerospace engineering, launched a focused examination on fatigue and repetitive loading in the bone, the type of stress that incurs from daily physical activity and exercise.

When a basketball player lands in a jump stop or a linebacker collides into an opposing player, stress occurs in their bones. An excessive buildup of these incidents can contribute to bone weakness, stiffness and energy loss in an athlete. These physical damages, however, begin on a smaller level. Microscopic cracks accumulate in the bones over an extended period of time leading, eventually, to a major fracture after they merge into one large break.

Courtesy of Garry Brock gradBreaking bone | Prof. Marjolein van der Meulen, mechanical and aerospace engineering, researches the microstructural properties of bone including how daily activity affects bones.

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