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The Sharpe Spine Biomechanics Laboratory, headed by William C. Welch, MD, FACS, FICS, neurosurgery, and Beth Winkelstein, PhD, bioengineering, is a joint facility that enables collaborative bioengineering research between bioengineers and neurosurgery residents.

Investigations at the laboratory focus on the biomechanics of the spine in various injury and treatment conditions. Studies on the kinematics and kinetics of all regions of the spine provide a mechanical context for parallel nociceptive studies in the Spine Pain Research Lab.

From a clinical perspective, the spine biomechanics laboratory’s resources provide an opportunity to investigate the effect of new medical devices and/or procedures on the mechanical behavior of the spine.

Located at Pennsylvania Hospital, the lab grants interested researchers access to medical equipment, including a C-arm for 3D fluoroscopy, as well as clinical expertise.

The team welcomes active collaboration between bioengineering researchers (undergraduate, graduate and postdoctoral), neurosurgery residents and faculty, and interested outside parties who want to perform biomechanical studies focused on the spine.

The 700-square-foot spine biomechanics lab is equipped with:

  • Walk-in freezer (-20°C, Hotpak)
  • Designated cadaveric specimen preparation space and surgical tools
  • Peak Motus 3D Optical Capture system for 3D kinematic analysis at 120Hz (Vicon)
  • NTSC camera for synchronized video imaging at 60Hz (Sony)
  • 8-channel signal conditioners (OM2-8608 backplane) and 16-signal conditioning cards (OM2-162 bridgesensor, Omega Engineering)
  • Electronic pressure regulators (Model ER1, Wilkerson)
  • Miniature pressure transducers (Model XCEL-100-50PSIA, Kulite)
  • Traditional mechanical testing system (Mini Bionix 370_FT60, MTS)
  • 370.02 Servohydraulic Load Frame with a testing space of 460 mm x 1412 mm (18.1 in x 55.6 in)
    • Axial actuator, 15 kN Force Rating / 100 mm Dynamic Stroke (3.3 Kip / 4 in) 
    • Torsional actuator,100 N-m Torque (1000 in-lbs) 
    • MTS 662.20 Series Axial/Torsional Load Cell (15 kN / 150 Nm) 
    • FlexTest 60 Controller 2 Channel, 1 Station with 8 channels for auxiliary analog inputs 
    • Spine sub-system with 6 DOF force transducer
      • Rotary actuator for flexion/extension +/-45 degrees
      • Rotary actuator for lateral bend +/- 45 degrees
      • 6 DOF force transducer: Fx,Fy=580N, Fz=1160, Mx, My, Mz=20Nm
  • A variety of customized fixtures, grips, and platens are available:
    • A custom-built swinging cradle
    • A custom-built passive XY table 3-point bending fixtures
    • A custom-built moment test frame with a 6-axis load cell (Robert A. Denton Inc.)
  • One high-speed, high-resolution Phantom digital video camera (Model Miro eX1, Vision Research)
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