Lawrence Tech Researchers Take Multifaceted Approach to Fixing Knees

By LTU Biomedical EngineeringComments Off on Lawrence Tech Researchers Take Multifaceted Approach to Fixing Knees

Yawen Li

Eric Meyer

Dr. Yawen Li and Dr. Eric Meyer
College of Engineering
Biomedical Engineering Faculty
Lawrence Technological University

Each year an estimated 200,000 people in the United States suffer
painful and potentially debilitating anterior cruciate ligament (ACL)
tears in their knees, and that number is growing annually. Researchers
at Lawrence Technological University are looking for better methods for
repairing the damage, as well as preventing the injuries from occurring
in the first place.

The ACL connects the femur and tibia in the knee and provides
stabilization during motion. ACL tears have become a common sports
injury that can signal the end of a season or even the end of an
athlete’s career. Such injuries are also common among the elderly.

Two LTU professors and their students are examining ways to reduce the
impact of this injury. Assistant Professor Eric Meyer believes a better
understanding of the biomechanical causes of ACL tears can reduce the
number of injuries, while Assistant Professor Yawen Li is using tissue
engineering to regenerate ACL ligament tissue that could make surgical
repairs both less invasive and more effective.

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Last spring, as they prepared to complete bachelor’s degrees in biomedical engineering at Lawrence Technological University (LTU), Kevin Roberts and Katelyn Fortin developed a shoe insert. The insert was made to help runners avoid shin splints and other injuries caused by putting too much weight on the heel when striking the pavement.
In keeping with LTU’s “theory and practice” approach to education, many engineering students create a product for their senior project. Mr. Roberts and Ms. Fortin studied trends in running-shoe sales, looked at the biomechanics of foot and ankle function, and consulted faculty advisor Eric Meyer about their idea for a training device that would help transfer more weight to the front of the foot. The students were focused on completing the project for graduation and were ready to leave it at that. “I just

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would have taken the grade and forgotten about the idea,” said Mr. Roberts.
That changed after a meeting last fall with Tech Highway consultant Paul Garko, an LTU alumnus who is part of the LTU Entrepreneurial Collaboratory. With his guidance, they developed a business plan and applied for a patent. “They got us to think about it as a sellable product,” said Mr. Roberts of the problem-solving approach the Collaboratory consultants provided. “They shaped the project in the direction it needed to go.”
Mr. Roberts and Ms. Fortin went back to the drawing board to resolve problems with the design and then tackled commercialization issues. Finalizing the design will take about a year, and then they hope to have a marketable product ready to show investors. As part of the Collaboratory’s emphasis on using a target customer to test the product under development, Mr. Garko found a running club whose members were willing to train with the shoe insert.

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