Mechanical and Civil Engineering Seminar
Joining of dissimilar materials is a fundamental challenge in engineering. Nature presents a highly effective solution at the attachment of tendon to bone ("enthesis") in the rotator cuff of the shoulder's humeral head. The natural enthesis does not regrow following healing or surgery, resulting in inferior tissue and in post-surgical tear recurrence rates as high as 94%. Pressing needs exist both to understand the mechanobiology of adhesion and toughening across hierarchical scales in the healthy enthesis, and to reconstitute these in healing.
Our results show the tendon to bone insertion to be a hierarchical, disordered system that uses randomness to tailor strain fields, and to maximize the fraction of tissue involved in resisting injury-level stresses. Based upon this model, we are developing two new mechano-medicine products for clinical translation: a diagnostic technology to evaluate the degree to which an enthesis is succeeding in physiological strain redistribution, and a repair technology that mimics the mesoscale function of the healthy enthesis by maximizing the fraction of tissue involved in resisting injury-level stresses. This talk will summarize our understanding of the mechanics of tendon-to-bone attachment, and describe repair and imaging technologies under development that harness this with the goal of providing improved surgical outcomes.