The Centre for Hip Health and Mobility (CHHM) hosted its first “Lunch & Learn” event at the Willow Chest Centre, April 18, 2011. Lunch & Learn is designed to provide training in leading edge technologies, create a forum for discussion and encourage learning across disciplines to promote strong research collaboration.
Dr. Steven Boyd (Department of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering; University of Calgary; Schulich School of Engineering; Faculty of Kinesiology) delivered a lively and insightful lecture entitled “Bone microarchitecture and strength from HR-pQCT” to a standing room only audience. CHHM offered a two-hour finite element analysis software (FAIM) Training Workshop in the afternoon. Dr. Boyd continues to be a key collaborator on many research projects with CHHM researchers.
Current clinical practice relies upon two-dimensional images acquired using dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA) to determine bone density. However, a DXA scan is unable to capture how bone mineral is organized and if there are weak spots. As Dr. Boyd aptly pointed out, “A brick building may look strong, but it really depends on how the bricks are arranged.”
“Dr. Boyd customizes the output of advanced imaging systems so that 3-D image reconstructions can be translated and applied to clinical populations like individuals with osteoporosis or osteoarthritis,” said CHHM Director, Professor Heather McKay. “A key to knowledge translation is adapting the unknown to become known and accessible.”
Dr. Boyd and his team at the University of Calgary are at the forefront of developing novel protocols using unique high-resolution peripheral quantitative computed tomography (HR-pQCT) to capture 3-D images of the actual microstructure of the bone. Dr. Boyd’s team transforms data created by high-resolution 3-D images and adds the elements of load-bearing and strength to the equation so that they can measure the effect of these loads on bones that are weakened by osteoporosis, for example. Using their customized finite element analysis software they are able to create a representation of the bone and estimate the amount and type of impact force that might cause the bone to fracture.
“We can’t really predict fractures.” said Dr. Boyd. “A person with weak bones might never fall over and therefore will not break their bones, while a person with strong bones might hit a tree while skiing. What we can do is look into the structure of bone to allow a better understanding of those elements that underpin each person’s bone strength.”
Lunch & Learn participants left the presentation with much to think about as to new directions and possibilities for their own research projects.