Knee osteoarthritis (OA) typically affects the medial tibiofemoral compartment of the knee joint, with the loss of medial cartilage being a distinguishing factor in disease severity. Cartilage appears to respond to applied loads and it has been suggested that the mechanical environment of the knee during gait can influence the breakdown of articular cartilage. Thus, characterizing the mechanical loading of the tibiofemoral joint may provide valuable insight into understanding the initiation of knee OA. Previous methods of kinematic and kinetic analysis have involved the use of opto-reflective markers and force platforms. However, more recently the use of body worn inertial measurement units allow us to measure 3D motion outside of the movement laboratory and in real world environments.
This project has been developed in close collaboration with ESR11. ESR11 has created algorithms to predict ground reaction forces and joint moments with reasonable accuracy using only body worn inertial measurement units. These algorithms can now be applied to a higher risk knee OA population during daily living activities, such as stair climbing, which is difficult to measure in the motion capture laboratory and is a common impairment for people with knee OA.
This is an important initial step towards assessing participant’s knee joint load during daily living activities outside of the laboratory environment. Furthermore, it may help determine kinematic characteristics that lead to abnormal loading of the joint during stair climbing, from which interventions can be developed.