Orthopaedic Biomechanics Research Laboratory


The Orthopaedic Biomechanics Research Laboratory at the University of Illinois at Chicago is directed by Professor Farid Amirouche. The laboratory conducts basic and preclinical research using the principles of mechanics and materials science to understand and treat real-world orthopaedic problems. Most of our projects are cadaver-based studies. Our current research projects are centered on the shoulder, spine, and knee with our primary focus being on clinically-oriented research problems. We investigate musculoskeletal biomechanics including joint restoration on TKA/THA, cartilage regeneration in knee repair, patella instability, knee balancing kinematics/kinetics with soft tissue, spine deformities, shoulder injury-rotator cuff repair, upper extremity biomechanics, computer navigation, and sports medicine.

Along with our orthopaedic faculty members we design courses and seminars to train our residents and fellows in the use of the latest technologies in orthopaedics. Our goal is a commitment to excellence in Orthopaedic Research to ensure that the most advanced treatment options are possible.

Research Areas

Current clinical projects in musculoskeletal disorders include focal osteochondral defect size and location, knee balancing and patella tracking, ACL and PCL reconstruction techniques. In the spine, we investigate treatment for scoliosis, fusion techniques, vertebrae pedicle screw cycling, and screw/bone interface. In the shoulder, our research includes glenohumeral joint stability, moment arm, and glenoid implant designs. In the hip, we investigate acetabular rim defects, acetabular cup replacements, femoral stem loosening, and cement-prosthesis interface.

Additionally, the research group develops computational modeling to aid the design and development of orthopaedic prostheses and to assess surgical procedures in clinical biomechanics. Our software capabilities include Materialise suite, SolidWorks (CAD), ANSYS, and Abaqus.


The Orthopaedic Biomechanics Research Lab is equipped with state-of-the-art equipment to examine the mechanical strength of musculoskeletal systems and implants, investigate the failure mechanism of bone-implant constructs, and study patients’ motion characteristics. The lab is also furnished with a powerful computer and sophisticated software for computer simulation and analysis of complex bone-implant constructs. Our computer generates patient-specific 3D geometric models based on CT/MRI images, performs virtual orthopedic surgery based on the patient's computer model, analyzes the construct strength and evaluates the potential for long-term implant survival. We make use of the finite element method to model and examine the mechanics of soft and hard tissues such as a knee/hip joint. We have developed techniques to build subject-specific finite element models directly from medical image data such as CT, and MRI images. Our techniques also digitize and characterize the material of bone and soft tissues to provide an assessment used in measuring clinical outcomes. Most of our work deals with experimental validation using cadaveric specimens and identification of clinical advantages using sensory and imaging feedback. We also use the Optotrak Certus 3D motion-capture system along with infrared light-emitting markers to track and record the positions and motions of the cadaveric models and to quantify the kinetics and kinematics of the skeletal system.

Load frames, MTS and Instron Machine

Uniaxial tension and compression load frames are utilized to determine material properties such as yield strength, ultimate tensile strength, Young’s modulus, Stress-Strain graph, etc.

The biomechanics Research Laboratory has two load frames, MTS 30/G and Instron machine. We conduct tension, compression, 3- and 4-point ben test, pullout test using multiple load cell capacities ranging from 10kN to 150kN.

Our software was recently updated to improve force and displacement resolution in our experiments. We have multiple fixtures, grips, compression plates, and bespoke holders which can be switched to suit sample dimensions and stress state.

Here at the biomechanics research group, load frames are used to apply load or displacement in a controlled fashion and to test human tissue.

Motion Tracking system, Optotrak Certus

The Optotrak Certus, NDI (Northern Digital Inc.) tracks kinetic motion of a body in real-time. The system uses active optical technology to measure the position and orientation of markers or sensors that are fixed on a movable body. When the body moves, the marker also moves proportionally. For a body with “n” number of parts, we use “n” number of markers to track motion individually.

The marker acts as a reference physical point for the imaginary points that will be marked throughout that specific part of the whole body. With this we will be able to get a rough contour of the desired parts initial and final state.

The system can capture 1000 frames per second. For each frame data is collected in respect to the cartesian coordinates in X, Y & Z axis. The system has the freedom to mark the origin anywhere in space within the machines range or take up the default origin.

Bio 3D printer, Dr. INVIVO 4D2

Dr. INVIVO 4D2 (Rokit Healthcare Inc.) is a Bio-3Dprinter for effective, on-demand bio fabrication of human tissue models and implants. It is capable of printing freeform cell suspensions, hydrogels, thermoplastic filaments, pastes, and other composite materials, enabling both hard and soft tissue engineering.

Printing material capabilities: Collagen, Hyaluronic acid, Gelatin, Chitosan, Pluronic acid, Bio PLA, Bio PCL etc.

Pressure mapping system, Tekscan

Pressure mapping sensor measures the pressure/force distribution of a specific area under an applied force.

The pressure sensor contains a matrix array of dielectric sensing elements which each unit is known as a “sensel”. When the sensel is loaded, the resistance of the semi conductive ink changes; this change is measured by the system. The output resistances are automatically converted to force or contact pressure values depending on the calibration factor.

Tekscan sensor model 4000 has two sensing areas that work independently. For each side, the sensing matrix is made up of 26 rows and 22 columns, making a total of 572 sensels that cover an area of 922.57mm2.

With the use of pressure sensors, we are able to visualize loading maps, detect peak force/stress values and determine contact area between bones.

Bespoke apparatus and rigs built at Biomechanics Lab

Cycling Joint Loading machine

This rig has a modular design and can be implemented for cycling experiments. The main outcome of this rig is to provide cyclic loads to a bigger specimen such as a Knee joint, Lumbar spine etc.

The rig is made of Aluminum extrusions for its main body which can be modified extensively depending upon the nature of the experiment. The driving force is generated by a Servo motor which is connected to a National Instruments (NI) Data acquisition Device (DAQ) system and driven by a custom LabView code.

Shoulder load simulator

This rig is used to apply loads and simulate a shoulder joint. It uses simple flat aluminum extrusions and an array of pulleys which guide the weights connected to the muscles and bones of a shoulder to simulate its movement.

Universal Tendon testing machine

This is a custom built mini UTM type of machine which can carry out tensile tests on tendons. This has a DC motor with a load cell of 50lbs capacity connected to a NI DAQ system and controlled using a custom LabView code.

Software Capabilities

The lab has powerful computer software to simulate and analyze complex bone-implant constructs. Our capabilities allow to generate patient-specific 3D geometric models based on CT/MRI images, performs virtual orthopedic surgery based on the patient's computer model, analyzes the construct strength, and evaluates the potential for long-term implant survival.

Materialise Mimics

Mimics is a software package that is used to convert patient CT scan (Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine - DICOM) files into useful Computer aided design (CAD) files. We have developed techniques to build subject-specific finite element models directly from medical image data such as CT, and MRI images. We use this software to create Finite element models of bones to simulate surgical procedures, determine stress distribution and test implants designs as part of the design cycle.

ANSYS and Abaqus

ANSYS and Abaqus are Finite Element Analysis software that helps us to conduct Static/dynamic analysis of a system. The main input file for this is the CAD file in STEP/IGES format. We make use of the finite element method to model and examine the mechanics of soft and hard tissues such as a knee/hip joint. With this software we can simulate simple and intricate loading scenarios on different elements such as bone to determine the stress distribution or failure. We can also simulate surgical procedures, assess implants, inserts and fixation tools. With the results we can validate results obtained in laboratory.


Solidworks is a CAD software which helps us to design implants, fixtures, and experimental rigs to be used in Biomechanics research. We use this software to design scaffolding structures to 3D print using biomaterials and bioinks.