Biomechanics is defined as the application of the laws of mechanics to the study or structure and function of movement. It is a relatively new subdiscipline to the domain of kinesiology. Biomechanics was initially closely associated with the study of sports technique. However, over the years, biomechanics has taken on a much more diverse field of study. In this paper, we will describe the contributions that biomechanics has made to the area of clinical biomechanics research in terms of clinical assessment and outcomes and the design of clinical apparatus. The first example examines a clinical assessment of a cerebral palsy child. The goals of such a clinical assessment are 1) to determine the primary problems with the locomotion capabilities of the individual, 2) to recommend treatment options, and 3) to evaluate treatment outcomes. In the second example, a procedure is described for designing braces for scoliosis patients. For this example, a three-dimensional digital twin is developed using a scanning technique. This example illustrates the research conducted on developing a technique to noninvasively and safely determine the torso deformities resulting from scoliosis. While these examples are but two of a wide variety of examples that could be used, they illustrate the contribution of biomechanics to the clinical world.
Hamill (NAK Fellow #384) is with the Biomechanics Laboratory, Dept. of Kinesiology, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA. Gorton and Masso are with the Clinical Outcomes Assessment Laboratory, Shriners Hospitals for Children, Springfield, MA.