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Collaboration between Clínica do Dragão and INEGI results in a computational model to test surgical approaches

15 January 2021
A group of INEGI's researchers, in collaboration with the Clínica do Dragão clinical team (Espregueira-Mendes Sports Center - FIFA Medical Center of Excellence), developed a computational model of the human knee that will help innovate in the treatment of anterior cruciate ligament injuries (ACL), a serious and common injury in high competition athletes.

The tool was created so that surgeons can test and customize the surgical approaches to be performed on patients, to support clinical decision making and minimize risks and complications. The model allows doctors to study knee simulations and various combinations of movements, with more anatomical detail and functional accuracy than reported in the scientific literature.

It is yet another example of how computational biomechanics can add value to the health and sports sector. Carla Santos, INEGI's researcher responsible for the development of the tool, says that the team has been "applying the finite element method successfully to develop simulations of various clinical problems, namely those related to biomechanics. This method allows the development of three-dimensional models of anatomical structures based on medical images, and thus contribute to the planning and testing of treatments and surgeries ”.

João Espregueira-Mendes, clinical director of Clínica do Dragão, underlines "the contribution of synergies and interdisciplinary research to the tool developed, in order to simulate injury mechanisms, for surgical planning, and the potential it has for reducing recurrences." He further states that "INEGI's collaboration adds a unique and important set of knowledge and skills to evolve in research in orthopedics and traumatology”.

The computational model also helps health professionals better understand the movements that typically cause ACL rupture, thus contributing to optimize prevention programs. The tool can also make a difference in the treatment of these injuries with surgical tapes (InternalBrace), allowing orthopedists to test the application in different locations and evaluate the result in the simulator.

ACL rupture is a serious injury to the knee joint that involves a long period of recovery, being more common in active young adults, particularly in highly competitive athletes.

Improving the treatment of this injury, as explained by Carla Santos, can result in "an increase in healthy knee longevity, which will have an impact on the quality of life of individuals, as well as the practice of sports and other actovities in greater safety, which ultimately it will have a beneficial socio-economic impact ”.