Understanding how reduced loading affects Achilles tendon mechanical properties using a fibre-reinforced poro-visco-hyper-elastic model

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Abstract

Understanding tendon mechanobiology is important for gaining insight into the development of tendon pathology and subsequent repair processes. The aim of this study was to investigate how experimentally observed mechanobiological adaptation of rat Achilles tendons translate to changes in constitutive mechanical properties and biomechanical behavior. In addition, we assessed the ability of the model to simulate tendon creep and stress-relaxation. A three dimensional finite element framework of rat Achilles tendon was implemented with a fibre-reinforced poro-visco-hyper-elastic constitutive model. Stress-relaxation and creep data from Achilles tendons of Sprague Dawley rats that had been subjected to both daily loading and a period of reduced loading were used to determine the constitutive properties of the tendons. Our results showed that the constitutive model captures creep and stress-relaxation data from rat Achilles tendons for both loaded and unloaded tendons with good accuracy (normalized root mean square error between model and experimental data were 0.010–0.027). Only when the model parameters were fitted to data from both mechanical tests simultaneously, were we able to also capture similar increase in elastic energy (increased stiffness)and decreased viscoelasticity in response to unloading, as was reported experimentally. Our study is the first to show that experimentally observed mechanobiological changes in tendon biomechanics, such as stiffness and viscoelasticity, can be designated to mechanical quantities in a constitutive model. Further investigation in this direction has potential to discriminate tissue components responsible for specific biomechanical response, and enable targeted treatment strategies for tendon health.

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Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Other Medical Engineering

Keywords

  • Box Behnken, Design of experiments, Fibre-reinforced, Mechanobiology, Poroelasticity, Viscoelasticity
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)301-309
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of the Mechanical Behavior of Biomedical Materials
Volume96
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Publication categoryResearch
Peer-reviewedYes

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