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Vibration Stimulation as a Non-Invasive Approach to Monitor the Severity of Meniscus Tears

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Musculoskeletal disorders and injuries are one of the most prevalent medical conditions across age groups. Due to a high load-bearing function, the knee is particularly susceptible to injuries such as meniscus tears. Imaging techniques are commonly used to assess meniscus injuries, though this approach suffers from limitations including high cost, need for skilled personnel, and confinement to laboratory or clinical settings. Vibration-based structural monitoring methods in the form of acoustic emission analysis and vibration stimulation have the potential to address the limits associated with current diagnostic technologies. In this study, an active vibration measurement technique is employed to investigate the presence and severity of meniscus tear in cadaver limbs. In a highly controlled ex vivo experimental design, a series of cadaver knees (n =6) were evaluated under an external vibration, and the frequency response of the joint was analyzed to differentiate the intact and affected samples. Four stages of knee integrity were considered: baseline, sham surgery, meniscus tear, and meniscectomy. Analyzing the frequency response of injured legs showed significant changes compared to the baseline and sham stages at selected frequency bandwidths. Furthermore, a qualitative analytical model of the knee was developed based on the Euler-Bernoulli beam theory representing the meniscus tear as a change in the local stiffness of the system. Similar trends in frequency response modulation were observed in the experimental results and analytical model. These findings serve as a foundation for further development of wearable devices for detection and grading of meniscus tear and for improving our understanding of the physiological effects of injuries on the vibration characteristics of the knee. Such systems can also aid in quantifying rehabilitation progress following reconstructive surgery and / or during physical therapy.

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